March 14, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 47

County implements extra DUI patrols for St. Patrick's

Law enforcement will conduct extra driving under the influence (DUI) patrols in Spokane County from March 14-18. As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, revelers are encouraged to remember that finding a designated driver isn’t luck, it’s smart, and the best way to make sure you and your friends get home safely. 

The Spokane County Target Zero Task Force is reminding drivers not to get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking. Extra patrols will be going on during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, where local law enforcement agencies will be actively looking for impaired drivers.  

“Whether you are gathering with friends at the local bar, or a private party, if alcohol is part of the festivities, following a simple plan will save you a lot of headaches,” Karen Wigen, Spokane County Target Zero manager, said. 

A DUI arrest is not the worst that can happen. Drivers can be charged with vehicular homicide or vehicular assault if someone is killed or injured while driving impaired. Last July, the penalty for vehicular homicide in Washington increased from 31 to 61 months. 

Washington has a plan to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries to zero by the year 2030 through a variety of strategies, including education, engineering, emergency medical services, and enforcement. One person is killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States, the majority of these crashes involve drivers who have a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or higher. Twice the per se limit of .08.   

To prevent these tragedies from occurring, our task force recommends the following steps to have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day:

— Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.

— Before drinking designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.

— If you’re impaired use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member.

— If you see an impaired driver call 911.

And remember, if you know people who are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they’re going safely.

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