Nashville – In preparation for this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day holiday, the Tennessee Highway Patrol is gearing up for a statewide DUI enforcement campaign with more than 50 sobriety and driver license checkpoints planned across the state. The 2012 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period begins at midnight Saturday and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.
As part of the campaign, THP has planned a driver’s licesne checkpoint on Skyhawk Parkway in Martin during the late night hours on Saturday.
“We take traffic safety enforcement seriously throughout the year and especially on holidays,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.
“St. Patrick’s Day has become a popular holiday for many Americans to celebrate with friends and family. We want to remind all citizens to act responsibly, obey the rules of the road, and never drink and drive.”
In Tennessee, three people were killed during the 2011 St. Patrick’s Holiday period, and one fatality was alcohol-related. There were 99 crash fatalities nationwide on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, according to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Out of that number, 24 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
“DUI enforcement is one of the most important duties of our agency,” THP Col. Tracy Trott said.
“We have a responsibility to keep the roadways safe, and State Troopers will be working around the clock to make sure that violators are caught and roadways are safe this St. Patrick’s Day period.”
During last year’s St. Patrick’s Day enforcement period, the THP made 18 impaired driving arrests statewide. Since Jan. 1, 2012, state troopers have arrested 1,106 DUI violators, a 47.3 percent increase from the 751 arrests made at this same time a year ago.
The THP will be conducting bar checks, saturation patrols and driver license and sobriety checkpoints in an effort to reduce alcohol-related fatalities and serious injury crashes this weekend. In 2011, preliminary statistics indicate that 945 people died on Tennessee roadways, a decline of 8.4 percent, compared to 1,032 fatalities in 2010.
The THP offers these safe driving tips:
• Plan Ahead. If you plan to drink, arrange a safe way home before the festivities begin.
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
• If you’re impaired, call a taxi, use public transportation, or call a sober friend or family member to get you home safely.
• Use the local Sober Ride program.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, promptly contact your local law enforcement agency (Dial *THP)
• Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. If you or someone who is about to ride with someone who is impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to their destination safely.
• And remember, the tragedies and costs of driving drunk are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for drunk driving are significant.
For more information on the consequences of impaired driving in Tennessee, visit http://tn.gov/safety/duioutline.htm.