By Ben Lawson
To combat notoriously high numbers of drunken drivers during the New Year holiday, 13 law enforcement agencies teamed up in an unprecedented show of cooperation.
The Foothills Law Enforcement Coalition is comprised of law enforcement departments with primary jurisdiction in Blount, Sevier and Cocke counties, including all of the Sheriff and Police Departments, the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Coalition’s goal is to increase public awareness and create a unified front to address the serious issue of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs while preventing impaired drivers from injuring themselves and others.
“The coordination between so many agencies is pretty much unheard of,” said Bob Miller with the National Park Service.
During the holiday weekend, the agencies saturated the three-county area with enhanced DUI patrols in a specially coordinated six-hour period to flood the primary traffic corridors of their jurisdictions and identify drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The special operation was part of the statewide “Booze It and Lose It” campaign coordinated by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, with funding support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Miller had not yet seen numbers on how many arrests were made, but he indicated that those numbers, while important, aren’t the key to the operation’s success.
“Making more arrests isn’t necessarily the goal,” he said. “Getting the publicity so people know we’re out there will hopefully make them think twice about drinking and driving and find a designated driver.”
Cooperating to Safeguard Drivers
By Ben Lawson