Washington County VA

DUI stops added for New Year's holiday

THP New Year's patrols

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - The roads get busy on New Year's Eve as many people head to celebrations.

"[I'm] getting together with some friends, it should be real mild," said William Gatz of Johnson City.

Gatz told us that's not the case for everyone. "I know a lot of people get together and have crazy parties during New Year's," he said. 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol told us five people were killed in alcohol-related car crashes in Tennessee on New Year's Eve last year. That's why THP and local police set up DUI checkpoints in five local counties.


On New Year's Eve there are 17 stops in Washington, Claiborne, Hawkins, Sullivan and Greene Counties. There will be seven checkpoints on New Year's Day.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office told us they have eight to ten extra cars out on New Year's Eve, on top of the regular shift.

There will be anywhere from four to a dozen police officers at each stop.  If they think you've been drinking and driving, they'll ask you to step out of the car and perform a few tests. "We go by index finger to the tip of the nose, walking in a straight line as they call it, one legged stand, things like that," said trooper Edward Tester, with THP.

Tester told us they can also ask for a blood sample to check the alcohol level, and you have to give it. "They can't refuse it under the 'No Refusal' event," he said. "We'll get a search warrant, have a judge sign it, and take their blood."

Resident Katherine Milam told us she's fine with that. "I think they police officers have that right. I stand for that too," she said.

Milam told us she knows the "No Refusal" campaign won't deter everyone, so she's going to be cautious on the road. "We may be coming home early, it just depends on how the night goes," Milam said.

Trooper Tester told us they've already made arrests at the checkpoints since they started on December 30. We'll get the final tally after the New Year.

We're told police will also be checking bars to make sure there isn't underage drinking, and for people who may have drank too much.

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