The Tennessee Highway Patrol will conduct a “no refusal” enforcement campaign this Labor Day weekend.
It goes into effect at Midnight Friday, Aug. 29 and concludes at Midnight Monday, Sept. 1.
The “no refusal” campaign means that if a driver is pulled over for suspected drinking and driving they cannot refuse to take a blood test. It allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for blood samples if they suspect someone is driving while impaired.
“Law enforcement officials have another tool to utilize to deter impaired driving and reduce fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways by conducting ‘no refusal’ enforcements,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said.
Troopers will conduct “no refusal” enforcement in the following counties: Union, Hamilton, Marion, Montgomery, Shelby, Hawkins, Smith, Maury and Hardin.
Officials said there will also be driver’s license, sobriety and seat belt checkpoints, as well as saturation patrols and bar and tavern checks.
“Our district captains have created enforcement plans specific to their regions. So, there will be a variety of specialized enforcement during Labor Day, including distracted driving, commercial vehicle safety, and Move Over enforcement, for example. However, the priority is always on impaired driving and seatbelt enforcement,” Trott said.
This is an initiative Brad Bulla of Brentwood feels strongly about. He lost his 17-year-old son, Jed, on Aug. 3, 2005.
“It’s a horrible, horrible thing for a parent to have to go through. It completely altered my life,” said Bulla. “There’s not a day goes by I don’t miss and think about Jed.”
Bulla said his son was killed after getting into a truck with his 16-year-old friend who was driving drunk.
They were going nearly 100 miles-per-hour when his son’s friend flipped his truck.
“My world was just totally turned upside down. We need to do everything we can in the preventative arena to keep this from happening,” stated Bulla.
He hopes his story and the patrols will force people to think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.
“Because you’re putting not only yourself but a Jed Bulla, a 17-year-old kid, or someone like him, someone’s mother, husband, brother, son or daughter in terrible danger when you do this,” said Bulla.
Over the Labor Day weekend in 2013, 16 people were killed in 15 fatal crashes on Tennessee roadways.
So far in 2014, there have been 3,981 crashes on Tennessee roadways involving alcohol-impaired drivers, about 399 less than last year.
Seatbelt usage is another contributing factor in crashes across the state. To date, 50 percent of vehicle occupants killed in crashes were not wearing safety restraints in 2014.