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'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' Nov. 21 through the New Year

Lynn Ross spent more than $1,200 paying for the ignition interlock that he had to have installed on his Dodge truck as a result of a DUI conviction.

The device is about the size of a cell phone with a tube for breath samples. Like many in Snohomish County, Ross, a Spokane Valley resident, had to blow into it every time he started his truck every day for 14 months. The truck would only start if there was no alcohol in his system.

Despite the cost and the hassle — he had to switch to alcohol-free mouthwash and wait for a few minutes in the morning for the machine to warm up — Ross, a union carpenter, is thankful for the ignition interlock program.

"It's a good program," Ross said. "It kept me from drinking and helped me get my license back."

Keeping the ability to legally drive, even during his suspension period, meant being able to keep his job since his work requires him to travel throughout the Pacific Northwest region.

"I wouldn't have a job if I couldn't drive," Ross said. "It was a very positive experience for me, but I was done drinking."

For someone who was still drinking, Ross thought the ignition interlock might be a more negative experience.

Ever since January of this year, ignition interlock drivers have to have a record of clean blows for the last four months of the restriction in order to get the device removed and be eligible for their regular driver's licenses.

"This ensures that drivers demonstrate the ability to separate their drinking from their driving," Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director Darrin Grondel said.

As the Washington Traffic Safety Commission announces the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" holiday campaign, Grondel urges drivers to plan ahead.

"Don't let a DUI ruin your holidays," Grondel said. "Before you leave home for a holiday party, think about how everyone can get home safely. Designate a sober driver, take a taxi or stay the night."

As part of the campaign, extra officers will be canvassing roadways between Wednesday, Nov. 21, and Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, throughout Snohomish County searching for impaired drivers.

The Arlington, Marysville and Tulalip Tribal police departments will be joining those of Brier, Edmonds, Everett, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace and Mukilteo, as well as the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Patrol, in participating in Washington state's first-ever "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign with assistance from the Washington State Liquor Control Board. The Bothell Police Department will also conduct patrols as part of the Snohomish County effort.

The Snohomish County DUI & Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force organizes and supports this enforcement effort.

For additional information about the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, visit www.wtsc.wa.gov.

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