THP plans to crackdown on drinking and driving during holiday

THP plans to crackdown on drinking and driving during holiday

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By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  On the night before Christmas Eve last year, a Madisonville family was on their way to their grandparents when a minivan, driving the wrong way, crashed into them.

Scott and Michele Barhorst of Madisonville were killed, their nine year old daughter critically injured.

The driver of the minivan was leaving a Christmas party and police believe alcohol was a factor. He was killed along with his seven year old son.

Alcohol related accidents typically spike during the holiday season, and with Christmas just days away, Tennessee Highway Patrol officers are cracking down.

"We will have extra patrols out, extra personnel on the roadways and we will have saturation patrols where we'll take a lot of troopers and concentrate on certain areas where data has shown we have a high number of crashes or alcohol impaired crashes," explained THP Lt. Don Boshears.

In 2011, the most recent year for statistics, 931 people were killed in drunk driving accidents between Thanksgiving and New Year's; and 28 were in Tennessee.

Lt. Boshears says the holiday season means heavy traffic on the roads, and with people celebrating the season, more people will drink and drive.

"First it's very simple, don't do it. You know you're going, make plans, designate a driver. If you're hosting a party, allow for people to stay with you. Make arrangements to get home. There are so many options out there. Just don't drink and drive," urged Lt. Boshears.

One of those options is AAA's Tow to Go.

"It is a free service to members and nonmembers to call as their last resort for a free ride home for them and their vehicles," explained AAA spokesperson Stephanie Milani.

The service will go from December 23 until January 1, but drivers cannot call ahead or make reservations. It is designed as a last-resort, so it is still important to plan for a designated driver.

Drinking and driving accidents increase by almost 10 percent around Christmas and New Year's, compared to the rest of the year.

THP will not have checkpoints on Christmas, but they will have them over the weekend prior to Christmas and on New Year's Eve. You can find the details of the checkpoints on their website.

THP says they believe the increased enforcement's efforts have contributed to a decrease in injuries and fatalities. Alcohol-related crashes have gone down by more than 30 percent since last year.

In addition to the dangers of an accident, the legal costs and personal costs of a DUI are enormous.

"We want you to enjoy the holidays, but we want you to enjoy them safely," said Lt. Boshears.

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