BY KEN LITTLE
Greene County had the second-highest total of driving-under-the-influence arrests among 16 targeted counties during the Tennessee Highway Patrol's recent "No Refusal" enforcement effort.
The special "No Refusal" crackdown by the THP took place during the recent New Year's holiday period, from 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 28 through midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 1.
"No Refusal" is the latest enforcement strategy aimed at deterring impaired driving and reducing fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways.
The law, passed in 2012 by the General Assembly, allows law enforcement officials to seek search warrants for blood samples in cases involving suspected impaired drivers.
Previous "No Refusal" enforcement efforts in Tennessee were held during several holiday periods in 2012, including the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.
The goal is to deter impaired driving and reduce fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways, a THP spokesman said.
Greene County had 10 DUI arrests over the holiday period. There were no refusals to take a blood-alcohol content test in this county, so no search warrants were obtained for blood samples.
Statewide, two suspects refused to take a breathalyzer test. The refusals resulted in warrants for a blood sample under the "No Refusal" law.
Sixteen counties, two from each of the eight THP Districts, participated in this special DUI enforcement effort, including Carter and Greene counties from the THP's Fall Branch District.
Other counties participating included Knox and Sevier, from the Knoxville District; Hamilton and Marion, from the Chattanooga District; Robertson and Wilson, from the Nashville District; Crockett and Tipton, from the Memphis District; Cumberland and Overton, from the Cookeville District; Bedford and Maury, from the Lawrenceburg District; and Chester and Carroll, from the Jackson District.
Hamilton County (which includes Chattanooga), with 31 DUI arrests, led the state during the "No Refusal" enforcement effort. One search warrant was obtained for blood samples in that county.
There were 10 sobriety checkpoints between Dec. 28 and Jan. 1 in Greene County, five at points along U.S. 11E and the remainder on other roads throughout the county.
Overall, the THP arrested 96 people on suspicion of impaired driving in counties participating in the "No Refusal" enforcement effort over the New Year's holiday period.
Preliminary reports indicate that three people were killed in three separate crashes in participating "No Refusal" areas, specifically Hamilton, Knox and Wilson counties. None of those crashes was alcohol-related.
No fatalities were reported by the THP in Greene County.
Overall, seven people were killed in five crashes statewide during the New Year's Eve period, compared with five vehicular fatalities during last year's period.
Two of the vehicle occupants were not wearing seat belts. Two of the people killed were pedestrians, according to the THP.