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Tennessee, Virginia officers joining forces for DUI checkpoint

Wes Bunch • Jun 27, 2014 at 7:13 AM

KINGSPORT — Local and state law enforcement agencies from both Tennessee and Virginia will join forces Friday as part of their annual "Hands Across the Border" operation to combat drunk and drugged drivers.

The Kingsport Police Department announced that the area-wide campaign will kick off locally with a DUI-sobriety checkpoint at the Tennessee-Virginia line on Lynn Garden Drive. The checkpoint will take place from 11:00 p.m. until 1 a.m.

Members of law enforcement from the KPD, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office, the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the Scott County, Va., Sheriff's Office and the Virginia State Police, along with other agencies, will hold a pre-checkpoint meeting from 9:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at Higher Ground Baptist Church, 1625 Lynn Garden Drive.

In addition to law enforcement, KPD Public Information Officer Tom Patton said representatives from Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other DUI victims' advocates will also take part in the meeting to share their own stories regarding the impact of drunk driving-related accidents.

The "Hands Across the Border" campaign is sponsored by the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office (GHSO). In addition to cooperating with Virginia law enforcement, the Tennessee initiative — which coincides with the "100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T." campaign — also works with police from states like Kentucky and North Carolina.

In addition to the Lynn Garden event, a checkpoint will also be held on the state line in Bristol, Tenn./Va.

GHSO East Tennessee Coordinator Jerry Hughes said the campaign was created several years ago to show that law enforcement agencies from different jurisdictions can work across state lines to curb DUI.

"The main purpose is to show that drunk drivers don't just stay in one area," Hughes said. "We want people to know that we're working as a joint venture between both states and that everyday people cross state lines after drinking alcohol or using drugs and it creates problems in our communities. So that's why we have these multijurisdictional sobriety checkpoints."

While alcohol is still a major focus, Hughes stressed that officers would also be looking for drivers who might be under the influence of various drugs.

"We're out here to stop prescription and illegal drugs as well as alcohol," Hughes said. "Whether it's prescribed, or taken illegally, or they're taking alcohol with their prescription medication, we'll be working together to find those drivers."

In addition to Friday's checkpoint, Hughes said officers in both states will be conducting saturation patrols and increased sobriety and license checkpoints in border areas for the remainder of the year.

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