Cracking Down on Drunken Drivers

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Friday kicks off The National Holiday Lifesavers Weekend as part of an effort to keep you safe as you travel to see friends and family this Holiday.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel is just back from a ride-a-long with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

They're taking every situation seriously from DUI checkpoints, to saturation patrols, to driver license checkpoints. They're cracking down on irresponsible drivers and focusing on reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road, and they're asking you to help out through a campaign called Lights on for Life.

It's common sense. When driving in the dark, use your headlights, but this weekend, THP troopers are asking you to do something uncommon: leave them on all day long.

"Most of the time with a DUI fatality, it's usually the innocent person that's killed," trooper Lt. Jessie Brooks said.

It's all in an effort to promote safety and reduce the number of impaired drivers on the road.

"This time of year, traditionally people like to get out and have parties and unfortunately when they have these parties, they get intoxicated," Brooks said.

That's why troopers like Howard Greenlee are stepping up efforts and get impaired drivers off the road.

"You're looking for speed. With alcohol sometimes people get a little more courage as far as speed, weaving in a out of traffic if it's heavy, tailgating, their response is a lot slower," Greenlee said.

In 2005, 1,224 people died in Tennessee accidents. Three hundred ninety seven of those were drug or alcohol related. This year, troopers want to change that.

"We're concentrating on areas where we've had a number of fatalities, especially alcohol related fatalities," Brooks said.

And those extra patrols, more checkpoints and roadblocks seem to be working.

"During holiday weekends, we've had success this year so far with our fatality reports being down," Greenlee said.

During the next few weekends, troopers will be cracking down because authorities say, if you get behind the wheel drunk and cause a wreck, it's not an accident, it's a violent crime.

"There's no excuse for it. If someone goes out and drives a car with their intentions being intoxicated it's out and out criminal," Brooks said.

We checked with quite a few local cab companies. On average: A 50-mile cab ride will cost you about $100, but a DUI fine could cost you $1,500 and up to 12 month in jail.