For the first time in four years, law enforcement agencies in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties will hold a joint DUI enforcement campaign during the weekend of December 18-19.
Data show the highest number of fatal crashes happen in the tri-county area, 40 percent of the statewide total in 2019, or 197 fatal crashes out of 499. Driver impairment from more than one substance – usually alcohol and cannabis – is the most common factor in deadly crashes. While each of these counties regularly conducts their own DUI patrols, the upcoming unified campaign is the first time since 2016 all three counties have coordinated their patrol efforts on the same weekend.
“We’re joining forces to send a clear message to drivers to find sober alternatives to driving impaired. We hope the visibility of the extra patrols will deter impaired driving and save lives,” said Sara Wood, Target Zero Manager for King County.
Said Mark Medalen of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) which helps fund the patrols, “Law enforcement will add patrols looking for impaired drivers during the holidays. But law enforcement alone can’t prevent all impaired drivers from possibly hurting themselves or others. We can all step in to offer someone a couch to sleep on or a sober ride home. When we step in, we can save lives.”
Patrol cars are not the only impaired driving prevention tool being deployed across the region. The Washington State Patrol Mobile Impaired Driving Unit (MIDU) will be deployed to the Corson Department of Transportation facility in Georgetown. The MIDU serves as a full-service impaired driving processing station on wheels and will act as a command center for the joint operation. In addition, teams of phlebotomists will be on hand to assist with blood draws to expedite processing of drug-impaired drivers.
“Most Washingtonians do not drive impaired,” said Stacey McShane, Target Zero Manager for Snohomish County. “But we are bringing our resources together from Tacoma to Everett to find those who do.”
The unified patrols are just one of the actions law enforcement is taking this December to deter impaired driving. Police departments and first responders across the state are posting self-made videos on social media urging people to “Step In” to prevent someone they care about from driving impaired.
First responders recorded the videos in early December, often recounting their difficult stories of notifying a family that a loved one had been killed in an impaired driving crash. A few responders told their stories of being hit and injured by an impaired driver or losing their own family members to an impaired driver. And everyone agrees that these crashes and deaths are preventable – if people step in.
The videos are available at WADriveToZero.com.
Many Washingtonians already Step In; 81 percent take action to prevent someone from driving impaired when in a position to intervene. Interventions include:
- Arrange or provide a ride
- Offer your couch for the night
- Arrange for a friend or loved one to stay where they are
- Engage someone else to help, including calling 911
Said Renee Tinder, Target Zero Manager for Pierce County, “Our goal is not to make arrests, but to keep anyone from getting behind a wheel to drive while impaired. If you plan to party, make a plan. And if you see someone about to drive impaired, take action and step in.”
“Impaired driving crashes are devastating to not just the victims, but also the first responders, family, and friends,” said Medalen. “We hope everyone will follow the examples of these first responders to step in and commit to preventing impaired driving in their own families. Saving a life is the greatest gift we can give.”