A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report says there were more Tennessee residents charged with driving under the influence in 2014 than 2013.
The report, which must be submitted to lawmakers, says law enforcement agencies arrested 29,544 around the state for the offense in 2014. That’s 639 more people arrested for DUI than in the previous year.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports local DUI arrests also increased last year. Officials from the Chattanooga Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the bump is due to new techniques that include using analytic software to predict when and where drunken drivers might crash and focusing more efforts around bars.
THP Capt. Jessie Brooks said extra troopers were sent to areas where accidents were likely.
“We identified areas that have a high rate of alcohol-related fatalities, and we adjusted our manpower to address those areas,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep everyone safe.”
Of those arrested, only 8 percent of the cases have gone all the way through the court system and of those, 88 percent ended with a conviction or guilty plea to DUI or a lesser charge.
Kate Ritchie, who is program director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Tennessee, said the arrest and conviction rates are a testament to the work of law enforcement officers.
“We are encouraged to see an 88 percent conviction rate, and while we would always like to see 100 percent of impaired drivers held accountable for their actions, we feel as though officers and prosecutors are working toward our common goal of eliminating impaired driving,” she said.
The organization gave Tennessee four out of five possible stars for DUI enforcement and laws that include ignition interlocks, sobriety checkpoints, no-refusal events and child endangerment laws.
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