ON CAMERA: "No refusal" law helps officers arrest drunk drivers - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

ON CAMERA: "No refusal" law helps officers arrest drunk drivers

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SODDY-DAISY, TN. (WRCB) -- You've heard the warning before: If you drive drunk, you will get caught!

But this July Fourth marks the first holiday officers can take your blood, to prove you've been drinking.

It's all because of a new law meant to cut down on a soaring number of alcohol-related crashes.

Wednesday night, Channel 3 was there as local drivers were put to the test.

This Fourth of July holiday Tennessee troopers are out in full force, looking for drunk drivers.

And a new law is allowing them to gather evidence against drunk drivers in a new way.

It's called the "no refusal" law. It allows law enforcement officers to seek search warrants for blood samples if they suspect a driver is impaired.

"We'll normally take them to the hospital to have their blood drawn, and then it's sent to the TBI lab to get the results," says Lt. Christie Phillips with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Enforcement has been ramped up this week in five counties, including Bradley, chosen for their large number of DUI crashes and fatalities.

State-wide, alcohol-related crashes have increased by 7.5 percent. More than 2,500 crashes involving impaired drivers were reported between January and June of this year, 177 more than 2011.

We rode along with a THP trooper Wednesday afternoon. Our camera was rolling as he was alerted to an erratic driver.

Witnesses Tim and Vicki Brown were traveling next to a white ford, as the driver weaved on and off the road.

"Driving in the emergency lane, slowing down and speeding up," Vicki says. "She was all over the place."

"She almost lost it right down here when she got into Rhea County," Tim says. "She had her cell phone right here. I don't know if she's been doing anything else, but I know when we passed her, because she almost side swiped us."

After the officer administered a field sobriety test and found open containers in the woman's car,
she was cuffed, and sent for a blood test.

Judges will be standing by this week to issue search warrants.

The "no refusal" campaign period ends July 8, but the law will remain in effect.

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