Law enforcement agencies across the state, including in Mercer Island, are participating in extra patrols aimed at getting DUI drivers off the roads over this holiday season from Dec. 15 to Jan. 1.
“The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) funds these extra patrols because we want every family to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones,” WTSC director Darrin Grondel stated in a press release. “Unfortunately, we are very aware that deadly traffic crashes can turn holiday dreams into nightmares.”
There is a concern with a recent increase in traffic deaths involving DUI, especially among drivers who test positive for two or more drugs, or both alcohol and drugs, according to the release.
“Our agency is charged with examining every detail of every deadly crash. When we look at this data, we have to wonder why we are seeing so many deadly crashes where drivers are mixing drugs and alcohol,” Grondel said.
An example of one such crash occurred on at 1 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2016. A 28-year-old man was driving under the combined influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. He entered I-5 near Tukwila, driving the wrong way. As he traveled around a curve, he crashed head-on into another vehicle traveling the correct direction around the same curve.
The crash killed the impaired driver and seriously injured the other driver. Test results showed a blood alcohol level of 0.28 percent, 14 nanograms of THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana) and a low amount of cocaine. He was unbuckled at the time of the crash.
A map of DUI crashes in the region “makes it easy to see that nearly three times as many drivers involved in deadly DUI crashes had multiple substances in their bodies as those with only alcohol or a single drug,” Grondel said.
“So as we travel this season, I would like to remind Washingtonians that mixing alcohol, marijuana and other drugs with driving can have devastating consequences,” he said. “Give the gift of life this holiday season. Talk to your friends and family. Ensure they drive sober or find an alternative ride.”
In King County, the Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Clyde Hill, Covington, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Normandy Park, Pacific, Port of Seattle, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snoqualmie and Tukwila Police Departments, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board and the Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in the extra patrols, with the support of the King County Target Zero Task Force.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission embraces Target Zero — striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com.