Police officers in Kent and across the state will increase DUI patrols Aug. 17 through Sept. 3 during what is typically the deadliest time of the year on state roadways.
The King County Target Zero Task Force, police departments from Algona, Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Covington, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Issaquah, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Normandy Park, Pacific, Port of Seattle, Redmond, Sammamish, Seatac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, Tukwila and the Washington State Patrol will participate in the emphasis patrols in search of drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Drivers impaired by alcohol, marijuana and other drugs are involved in nearly half of all traffic deaths in Washington, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC). In 2017, 250 people were killed in such crashes.
“These tragedies are completely preventable,” said Darrin Grondel, director of the WTSC. “As a community, we can end DUI-related deaths. We are asking for help. If you are in the position to prevent someone else from driving impaired, please be bold. Offer to call them a ride or give them a safe place to sober up.”
A new WTSC report provides insights into what has become the most common form of driver impairment — poly-drug use (two or more drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs). Beginning in 2012, the number of poly-drug impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes has increased by an average of 15 percent every year.
As of 2016, one in four of all Washington traffic deaths involve a poly-drug impaired driver. The most common combination is alcohol and marijuana.
Misconceptions about marijuana use, especially among young drivers, could be one factor in this trend. A statewide roadside survey included in the WTSC report shows that of the young drivers (ages 15-20) who admit to driving after marijuana use, more than half believe marijuana makes their driving better.
“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, WTSC research director. “The deadly consequence of combining these two particular substances is very apparent in all our fatal crash data.”
WTSC is encouraging people to “Make a Plan Before You Party” in order to get home safe.
“There are so many ways to travel safely, from taxis and ridesharing apps to public transportation, that driving drunk or driving high should never be an option.” said Grondel. “Just a few minutes of advance planning can prevent a terrible tragedy and costly arrest.”
For more information and ideas for making a plan before you party, visit wadrivetozero.com/DUI.