KNOXVILLE, Tenn — While you may have had a relaxing day off from work this Labor Day, authorities are working overtime to catch to catch people who are driving under the influence of alcohol.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security reports there have been nearly 3,000 alcohol-related crashes so far this year.
Scott Erland with the Knoxville Police Department said they have heavy patrol on roadways for the last day of the “Booze it and Lose it” campaign. Officers are reminding drivers that first-time DUI convictions in Tennessee can include high fines or jail time.
"A lot of people are traveling coming to or from Knox County so it's really important for us to be out there, to be visible," Erland said. The goal though, he said, is to stop drunken driving before it ever happens.
"To really try to basically deter dangerous driving through our visibility and enforcement efforts.” He said theirs evidence police presence impacts driver behavior. "We're not doing it to be punitive. We're doing it to prevent serious or worse, fatal crashes," Erland said.
Tami Oliver lost her daughter, Jaelyn, in April. Her friend's car was hit by a drunk driver. "She was hit on her side of the car and she was killed instantly. She was 18 years old. She had just graduated high school," she said. “She had a life. She was not just a number. She's not just one of the deaths on Tennessee roadways this year. She was my daughter.”
Oliver wants people to understand the risks and dangers of driving under the influence. "It's absolutely devastating and that's why I want to bring awareness to the fact that this can happen. This can happen to you. I never thought something like this would happen to my daughter," Oliver said.
Now, she said, not a day goes where she isn’t thinking about her daughter. On holidays like Labor Day Oliver challenges bystanders to get involved. If someone seems impaired, to help find a designated driver or have them stay put. It might just save a life she said.
"Nobody should have to bury their child. Especially from something like this. It is one hundred percent preventable," Oliver said.
KPD reminds drivers to buckle up, follow traffic laws, put down the cell phone and watch your speed, but most importantly, don't drink and drive.