Tennessee Highway Patrol, working in unison with the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and Cleveland Police Department, are kicking their enforcement up a notch and will utilize a new law. The so-called “No Refusal” enforcement period began at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and will end at midnight Sunday, according to THP Capt. David McGill.
“This special enforcement will take place in selected counties where impaired driving and fatal crashes have increased in 2012, specifically Anderson, Bradley, Davidson, Maury and Warren Counties,” he added.
Bradley County is among the five counties selected to highlight the new law which allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers.
“Previously, a suspected impaired driver could refuse a blood alcohol content test and face charges of violating the implied consent law. This new law enables law enforcement to legally obtain blood samples by working with prosecutors and judges throughout the state during the warrant acquisition process,” according to McGill.
10th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney General Brooklyn Townsend said the law will aid enforcement and help save lives.
The preliminary numbers show alcohol-related crashes on Tennessee roadways have increased 7.5 percent for the first six months of 2012, compared to the same period last year. The THP reports 2,547 crashes involving impaired drivers in Tennessee from Jan. 1 through June 30, 2012. That is 177 more than the 2,370 crashes during those same dates in 2011, according to Department of Safety data.
On hand at the announcement at the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday were troopers who will be a part of the enforcement this week, Governor’s Highway Safety Office liaison Clint Shrum and Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth who reminded area residents and motorists about Campaign Lifesaver, which he instituted in October 2011.
“Our troopers will be working with city and county officers. It is mandatory now requiring any driver arrested for DUI, we get a blood-alcohol test. They have no right to refusal,” McGill said. The mandatory tests will be conducted at approved medical facilities.
“We are going to make a difference in this area where we have had so many fatal crashes,” he added.
“We would like this to be a deterrent to individuals to keep people from drinking and driving and taking innocent lives of families, children and others,” he said.
McGill said DUI arrests are up over 40 percent over the past two years.
“It’s the goal of THP to do everything in its power to reduce alcohol-related fatalities,” McGill said.
Shrum said, “We have a fatality problem here and we are going to do something about it.”
“Put down the cellphone, slow down, buckle your seat belt, don’t drink and drive. Think before you drink,” he added.
“Do not drink and drive in Bradley County, that’s what this means,” Townsend said citing the new law.
“I am extremely concerned about the number of fatalities occurring on Tennessee roadways, and alcohol is a contributing factor in too many of these crashes,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said in a media notification. “Whether it’s displaying the fatality information on our [overhead interstate] message boards or educating the public about the new No Refusal law, awareness is key in making our roads safer.”