'Holiday enforcement' patrols out in force for New Year's weekend

Snohomish County and Washington state law enforcement agents are working to ensure that motorists' New Year's weekend is safe, which is why County Sheriff's deputies and State Patrol troopers will have multi-jurisdictional "holiday enforcement" emphasis patrols out in force to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roads.

"The best precaution you can take is to arrange for a designated driver if you think you'll be drinking," Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. "There's no excuse for driving while impaired."

The Washington State Patrol likewise urged motorists to make prior arrangements before leaving for parties, by arranging sober transportation to and from locations or making arrangements to stay the night. Because alcohol impairs judgment and decision making abilities, motorists are asked to plan ahead, so they're not forced to make decisions after drinking.

"Because many people are more aware of the risks on the road during this time, you're more likely to be reported for driving dangerously," Washington State Patrol Trooper Brandon Lee said. "If you're sober, be responsible for your friends to help them avoid bad decisions."

A recent traffic safety emphasis patrol removed 16 impaired drivers from southeast Snohomish County roads during an eight-hour period. Law enforcement will continue to work overtime shifts through September of 2010 on a traffic safety grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, and will be looking for impaired drivers as well as drivers who speed, drive aggressively or violate other traffic laws.

As many as 295 people in Washington state were arrested for driving under the influence and given a breath test between the hours of 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. from Dec. 11-12 and Dec. 12-13.

"That averages out to one person every three minutes arrested for driving while impaired," said Tracy McMillan, Snohomish County DUI and Target Zero Task Force Manager. "That's simply unacceptable."

During that same period, 46 people in Snohomish County were arrested for driving under the influence and given breath tests. These results do not include suspected impaired drivers given blood tests.

"Our goal is to have no serious injury or fatal collisions to end 2009, and we will do everything in our power to reach that goal," Washington State Patrol Lt. Dave Scherf said.

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