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Tennessee launches holiday period impaired driving campaign

Drivers in Tennessee can expect to see more police vehicles on the streets during the holiday season as local and state law enforcement agencies take part in a statewide effort to curb drunk driving. The Booze It and Lose It campaign is being organized by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office and is a part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's countrywide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over effort.

The statewide impaired driving campaign runs from Dec. 13 to the end of the year, and it features increased public messaging about the dangers of getting behind the wheel after drinking, more police officers devoted to traffic duties and widespread sobriety checkpoints. When asked why the campaign was needed, a senior THSA figure pointed out that impaired drivers were involved in more than 500 traffic accidents in Tennessee during the 2016 holiday period.

Individuals who are found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs face a number of severe penalties in Tennessee. In addition to losing their driving privileges, those convicted of even their first DUI in the Volunteer State could be sent to jail, ordered to pay fines and restitution, attend mandatory substance abuse classes and have ignition interlock deices installed in their vehicles. A DUI conviction also shows up on background checks and can make finding a job or renting an apartment more difficult.

Motorists charged with driving under the influence of alcohol have often never been in trouble with the law before, and they feel that they are unlikely to be shown leniency because the evidence against them is overwhelming. While toxicology test results are generally reliable, prosecutors may be reluctant to take drunk driving cases to trail. Trials are expensive and juries are unpredictable, and experienced criminal defense attorneys may offer to settle DUI cases quickly if prosecutors are willing to make concessions such as reducing the charges or softening the penalties.

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