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Tennessee law enforcement's 'No Refusal' campaign targets impaired drivers

November 20th, 2012 10:53 pm by Hank Hayes

FALL BRANCH — Law enforcement in Northeast Tennessee has an offer impaired drivers can’t refuse over the Thanksgiving weekend.


Officers gathered at the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Fall Branch location Tuesday to remind motorists to look out for the state’s “No Refusal” enforcement campaign starting at 6 p.m. today and ending at midnight Sunday.


The “No Refusal” law, enacted last July, allows law enforcement statewide to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers — with or without their consent.


“We’ve got the judges on call and if needed, they can forcibly take that blood and use it in a hearing afterward,” said District Attorney General Tony Clark of the 1st Judicial District.


In Northeast Tennessee, the enforcement effort this weekend is primarily based in Washington County — with all the checkpoint locations published by the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security.


The law requires the state to let people know where the checkpoints are, but doesn’t require letting motorists know when the checkpoints will be active, according to THP Capt. Stephen Street.


Street noted those checkpoints are divided into checkpoints to check driver’s licenses and checkpoints where officers are focused on the sobriety of the driver.


But, according to the published list of checkpoints, only two sobriety checkpoints will be active: On the Old Jonesborough Highway and Highway 11-E. Those checkpoints will be operational “late night” Sunday, according to the list.


When asked why the sobriety checkpoints will be operating at a time when many motorists will not be on the road, Street responded: “We’re looking at a holiday period. With that time, we have people traveling from out of state and just going across our state.”


Blood from suspected impaired drivers will be drawn at the Washington County Justice Center in Jonesborough, said Clark.


Nine people lost their lives on Tennessee roadways during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period, but none in Northeast Tennessee.


Still, AAA predicts 43.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday, up just 0.7 percent from last year. That compares with an increase of 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in the past two years.


Clark pointed out that there have been 890 traffic fatalities statewide this year — up about 50 deaths from the same period last year.


“I would say more than 50 percent of those (fatalities) are alcohol-related,” Clark said. “And 367 (of the victims) were not wearing seat belts.”


There have been more than 5,000 alcohol-related crashes this year, according to the state.


For more go to www.tn.gov/safety.


Where the checkpoints are:


Fall Branch District Checkpoints


Wednesday


Washington County


Driver’s license checkpoints


• State Route 107 (Evening)


• State Route 81 (Afternoon)


• State Route 381 (Evening)


• Plymouth Road (Afternoon)


• Smith Street (Evening)


• Oak Grove Road (Afternoon)


• Old Jonesborough Highway


(Evening)


• Huffine Road (Evening)


Thursday


Hawkins County


Driver’s license checkpoints


• Highway 11-W at Poor Valley


Bridge (Afternoon)


Thursday


Washington County


Driver’s license checkpoints


• State Route 107 (Afternoon)


• State Route 81 (Evening)


• State Route 75 (Evening)


• Plymouth Road (Evening)


• Austin Spring Road (Evening)


• Smith Street (Evening)


• Pickens Bridge (Evening)


Friday


Hawkins County


Driver’s license checkpoints


•State Route 66 at Rock Cut Road (Late Morning)


Friday


Washington County


Driver’s license checkpoints


• State Route 107 (Morning)


• State Route 75 (Morning)


• State Route 81 (Afternoon)


• State Route 354 (Afternoon)


• Highway 11-E (Evening)


• Smith Street (Afternoon)


• Huffine Road (Evening)


• Oak Grove Road (Evening)


• Old Jonesborough Highway


(Evening)


Saturday


Washington County


Driver’s license checkpoints


• State Route 107 (Afternoon)


• State Route 75 (Afternoon)


• State Route 81 (Afternoon)


• State Route 381 (Morning)


• Highway 11-E (Morning)


• Austin Springs Road (Evening)


• Old Jonesborough Highway


(Evening)


Sunday


Washington County


Driver’s license checkpoints


• State Route 81 (Morning)


• State Route 381 (Morning)


• Highway 11-E (Evening)


• Austin Springs Road (Evening)


• Smith Street (Evening)


• Oak Grove Road (Evening)


• Old Jonesborough Highway


(Evening)


Sunday


Washington County


Sobriety checkpoints


• State Route 381 (Late Night)


• Highway 11-E (Late Night)


Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security



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