FALL BRANCH, Tenn. - The Tennessee Highway Patrol tells News 5 that without fail they see a spike in DUI-related accidents on the first and last days of the year.
"People get out and party on New Year's Eve. We just try to keep the crashes down," said THP Sergeant Ken Wright.
Wright tells us this year they are using information from the Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis database, also known as TITAN, to help decide on the best places for DUI checkpoints. "We've got stats on what roads have the most of the DUI's, and the travel routes from the bars that are mostly commonly used. And that's where we focus our DUI concentrations," said Wright.
To date, there have been 975 traffic-related fatalities in Tennessee this year, just 33 short of 1,008 fatalities recorded in 2012. Wright tells us troopers will hold checkpoints in all 13 counties in their district to help keep this year's number from rising.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is not alone in their pursuit. The Washington County, Virginia Sheriff's Department will have extra officers starting Monday. "It will actually start a couple of days before and run all the way through New Year's Day. That comes from grants funded by the state to put extra officers out," said Jason Shepherd of the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff's Department.
Shepherd tells us drivers can help them out by being extra cautious after the clock strikes midnight. "[From] 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., you've got 5 hours there, that's probably when your[accident] rates are higher. More people are out and about on roadways, traveling to get home from wherever they spent New Year's," said Shepherd.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol will conduct a "No Refusal" campaign starting Monday night through Wednesday night. They will seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers.
Washington County, Tennessee is one of eight counties in the state that will be a part of the campaign.