Fourth of July weekend wasn’t a happy time for everyone. McMinnville Police Department arrested two individuals for driving under the influence in its effort to make the roads a little safer for everyone.
“We had almost an entire shift working extra in hopes of getting DUI’s off the road,” said McMinnville Police Department Lt. Mark Mara, of a saturation patrol held over the weekend. “I would like to say it was a quiet weekend but it definitely wasn’t. All the shifts were very busy.”
The extra shift, comprised of highly motivated and trained officers, was on the street actively pursuing impaired drivers by patrolling the streets and conducting traffic stops. The saturation patrols are designed to make highways safer by removing intoxicated drivers and to increase public awareness of the hazards of driving while intoxicated.
“Because of the efforts, we had no DUI-related accidents during the entire weekend,” said Mara. “We had none during the saturation patrol efforts. Fortunately, we had some officers that were working their regular shift and they were able to make two DUI arrests during the weekend. The officers did a great job with that.
One individual was charged with public intoxication. Mara says while the individual wanted to drive, others knew she had too much alcohol to drink so they kept her from driving until officers could arrive.
“She kept wanting to drive, but they wouldn’t let her,” said Mara. “When officers got there, she was arrested for public intoxication. They did the right thing by not allowing her to drive. If she had been allowed to drive off, that could have been a DUI arrest. Quite possibly, a DUI-related accident involving injury due to how intoxicated she was at the time.”
As a reminder, Mara adds, “Like we’ve stressed before, it’s not just alcohol that affects the body. It’s also prescription medication and illegal drugs like marijuana and methamphetamine, or any substance that impairs your ability to drive.”
During the saturation patrol effort, officers made 12 traffic stops. Of those, only five tickets were written.
“We try to make as many traffic stops as we can in hopes of getting impaired drivers off the roadway but our goal isn’t to write as many tickets as we can,” said Mara. “Our goal is to find impaired drivers, so we only handed out five tickets with the 12 traffic stops we conducted. Most of those were correctable tickets, such as a headlight out. If they fix it, the cost of the ticket is reduced.”
The department has been focusing on seatbelt violations. Mara says none were found during this saturation patrol effort.
The department is also encouraging drivers to have passengers properly restrained in the vehicle. A partnership with Dairy Queen of McMinnville provides free ice cream coupons for the department to hand out when children are properly restrained. Mara says none of the stops had young children in the vehicles.
Operation “Be a Survivor: Get a Designated Driver” receives funding from the Tennessee Governors Highway Safety Office.