Extra patrols will be looking for impaired drivers through New Year’s
SNOHOMISH COUNTY - This holiday season police will be watching for drunken drivers.
Impaired driving emphasis patrols are happening through New Year’s Day under a campaign by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
Numerous Snohomish County law enforcement agencies are working together to patrol the roads.
Drivers in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties will see an even larger presence of law enforcement officers on top of the Drive Sober campaign. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is paying for extra patrols year-round in these counties to reduce traffic fatalities under a program called Target Zero.
Police arrest nearly 40,000 impaired drivers every year, according to the Washington State Patrol. Although Washington’s highway fatality rate is falling, the number of people killed by impaired drivers is not falling as rapidly.
Reports from Target Zero show their efforts are working. The effort has saved 100 lives from crashes and reduced fatal accidents in all three counties, according to program reports.
A drunken driving charge costs a lot of money and temporarily strips a driver of his or her driver’s license. State law mandates a drunken driver’s vehicle be impounded and held for 12 hours after an arrest.
Courts often require an ignition interlock device to be installed if convicted of a drunken or drug-impaired driving charge, according to the Department of Licensing. It costs more than $1,000 to install one of those devices.
The devices require drivers to blow into them to show they have no alcohol on their breath before the vehicle will start.
A defense attorney can add thousands of dollars more to the cost of a DUI. Insurance rates usually spike after a DUI.
“Don’t let a DUI ruin your holidays,” commission director Darrin Grondel said. “Before you leave home for a holiday party, think about how everyone can get home safely. Designate a sober driver, take a taxi, stay the night.”
Half of all drunken driving fatalities are single-car accidents, Target Zero statistics from 2004 to 2008 show. Half of the people killed in accidents while an impaired driver was behind the wheel were not wearing a seat belt.
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