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Tennessee Highway Patrol announces its Memorial Day traffic enforcement plans

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The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) announced on Wednesday that it will "utilize a variety of traffic safety enforcement tools, specifically, 'No Refusal' enforcement, during the Memorial Day weekend period." That period begins Friday at 6 p.m. and will end Monday at 11:59 p.m., according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSHS).

"No Refusal," which allows police to obtain a blood sample if a person refuses a breathalyzer, will be conducted in one county in each of the THP's eight districts.

"We are committed to reducing the number of traffic fatalities in our state, especially during the busiest travel months of the year. Colonel Trott, Commissioner Schroer at the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and our partners in the Governor's Highway Safety Office are utilizing all of their resources to keep those traveling to and from Tennessee safe this Memorial Day period," TDSGS Commissioner Gibbons said.

According to the department, 10 people were killed during last year's holiday period which is down from 14 in 2012. Last year's deaths involved seven vehicle occupants, two motorcyclists, and one bicyclist.

"Seven of the vehicular fatalities were alcohol-related and three (42.9%) were unrestrained," the department said in its press release.

"The number of fatal crash victims due to non-seat belt usage in our state is unacceptable. We have partnered with the highway patrol, as well as local law enforcement officials, to aggressively enforce the seat belt law on Memorial Day weekend through the first of June. This campaign is not about writing tickets - it’s about saving lives," Governor's Highway Safety Office Director Kendell Poole said.

"State troopers arrested 113 suspects on suspicion of DUI and issued 1,669 seat belt citations statewide during the 2013 Memorial Day weekend. Our primary focus continues to be removing drunk drivers from our roadways and ensuring motorists are buckled up," THP Colonel Trott said.

In 2013, 321 people were killed from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend. Half of them were not wearing seatbelts. Motorcycle deaths totaled 64 during that same period and Trott is asking drivers to watch out for motorcycles.

According to the release, during Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer, the THP will conduct seatbelt, driver license, and sobriety checkpoints as well as saturation patrols throughout the state.

There is only one checkpoint scheduled for Knox County for the holiday. The THP will be checking if vehicle occupants are wearing their seatbelts Friday night at Macott Road and McBee Lane. The "No Refusal" sobriety checkpoint is scheduled for Friday night in Sevier County at Veterans Boulevard and Centerview Road.

The entire list of upcoming Memorial Day checkpoints throughout the state is located here.

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