Police see spike in DUI driving during Fourth of July holiday
We're less than one week away from the Fourth of July. It's a holiday when police see a spike in impaired driving.
Just over the weekend, a drunk driver plowed into the Chattanooga Police Department's property.
Lieutenant Austin Garret with the Chattanooga Police Department says, "We had a driver that turned onto Wisdom Street, lost control of his vehicle, crashed through the end of the fence of the Police Department and caused damage to that and his vehicle."
Arrest reports say an officer filling up gas heard several loud noises and then saw where Darwin Patterson crashed -- taking out a telephone pole, and a storage shed that housed the Department's neighborhood bike patrols.
Lt. Garret, "Made a poor choice, and could've been a deadly choice, luckily it was property damage."
Patterson adds to a growing number of DUI arrests in Chattanooga.
Lt. Austin Garrett says this time last year there were about 60 arrests -- this year that number has almost doubled to 116.
"The increase in numbers can be attributed to more enforcement as well."
Chattanooga Police received a grant from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office to pay for more officers and overtime to protect the community from drunk drivers.
"If you make those poor choices to drink and drive we're looking for you specifically and we're going to remove you from the roadway and eliminate the danger to the community."
With the 4th of July holiday coming up, you can expect to see more patrols too. Officers will look at high problem areas to make sure drivers make safe choices.
"We use data from crashes and things of that nature to determine areas well focus on for high visibility."
This week a new group of cadets is learning how to spot a drunk driver and how to conduct field sobriety checks. It's important preparation for both future and current officers.
"Going out and making death notifications on something for anything or type of violence that happens in our community, but this is something that can be avoided and poor choices that cause it."
The fence the drunk driver hit is technically a part of the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center's Property, we're told they are working with insurance to make repairs.
This isn't Patterson's first DUI. He was cited with DUI in 2004 and in 2009. He's due in court next month.