Sunday, July 14, 2024

Extra DUI patrols now thru Sept. 3


NCW - The thrill of having Monday off, the lingering effects from the post-work happy hour cocktail and the bad habit of speeding around tourists that slow to an infuriating speed to ogle the mountain side - safety hazards on the road amplify during holiday weekends, including upcoming Labor Day. 


In an effort to keep drivers safe during the deadliest time of the year on state roadways, there will be an increase in DUI patrols between August 17 and Sept. 3. According to a news release, Washington Traffic Safety Commission Region 12 Task Force, police departments and sheriff's offices from several counties, and Washington State Patrol will be joining the emphasis patrols. The law enforcement agencies are concentrating on drivers impaired by alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. 


"We can't do DUI checkpoints in Washington state so Washington Traffic Safety Commission helps fund emphasis patrols for local agencies," said Chief Jason Reinfield. "Extra  deputies, troopers and officers will be patrolling for the sole purpose to take impaired drivers off the road."


Drink responsibly is the fine, bolded print at the end of catchy wine cooler commercials and an ominous warning on a sign at a local bar - but there seems to be an underlying and underestimated component that isn't just in liquid form for DUI suspects. According to a Washington Traffic Safety Commission report, poly-drug use, which is two or more drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs, is the most common form of driver impairment. Since 2012, poly-drug impaired drivers in fatal crashed have increased by about 15 percent every year. Statistics and numbers stack to reveal that drivers impaired are involved in nearly half of Washington traffic deaths. 


In the WTSC report, there was a statewide roadside survey included that revealed drivers between ages 15-20 admitted to driving after marijuana use. The results also revealed that more than half of the young drivers believed marijuana improved their driving abilities. 


"This is an especially dangerous belief, if for example, a driver uses marijuana to compensate for the consumption of another substance that impairs driving ability, such as alcohol," said Staci Hoff, PhD, Research Director for WTSC, in the report. "The deadly consequence of combining these two particular substances is very apparent in all our fatal crash data." 


Regardless of party favors, whether they can be purchased in a dispensary or a liquor store, driving impaired can result in fatal consequences. The WTSC is reminding drivers to plan ahead before indulging. Designated drivers, Uber or the patrolling officers' backseat are optional rides for any impaired drivers. 


Labor Day, like most public holidays, creates unsurprising, albeit frustrating traffic congestions and a higher chance of accidents. The working class migrate to a new destination for the extended weekend and hiatus from the office with a cooler full of beer and boat in tow. The surge of temporary freedom from the 9-5 leads to celebrating in the form of BBQ and sangria by the water. However, Washington Traffic Safety Commission and the police forces on patrol are keen on keeping the celebrations and roadway activity from overlapping. 


"These tragedies are completely preventable," said Darrin Grondel, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, in the report. "As a community, we can end DUI-related deaths."


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