The Washington Traffic Commission just released data showing the deadliest time of year for DUI crashes tends to be before the Labor Day weekend. So starting today, police departments around the state will begin a nearly three-week long DUI emphasis.
About 150 departments across the state will participate in patrols between Aug. 14 and Labor Day. Between 2013 and 2017, the deadliest months for DUI crashes were August and September, when 238 and 259 people died in crashes total, according to WTSC data:
“We conduct the ‘plan before you party’ campaign during the busy summer travel time because we want everyone to get home safe,” said WTSC impaired driving program manager Mark Medalen in a press release. “Planning ahead for a safe ride is especially important for the small number of Washington drivers who mix alcohol and cannabis.”
Along with extra patrols, the WTSC is placing signs in cannabis shops around the state to remind users not to drive impaired — and not to mix cannabis with alcohol. Between 2013 and 2017, about 75 percent of drivers in fatal crashes were also using alcohol or another drug, according to WTSC.
From 2013 to 2017 nearly 75 percent of cannabis-positive drivers in fatal crashes were also positive for other drugs and/or alcohol. Poly-drug drivers are now the most common type of impaired driver involved in fatal crashes.
Responding to this trend, traffic safety officials are improving techniques used to test drivers for impairment from cannabis. For example, in King County, the Kent Police Department is participating in a Law Enforcement Phlebotomy training and certification program. Police officers are trained to draw and test blood, avoiding a lengthy wait in the hospital where the blood is typically drawn from the suspect.
The WTSC is advising everyone in the state to make a transportation plan before consuming alcohol or drugs, whether it’s finding a designated driver or saving money for a ride-share. Otherwise, police in just about every city in Puget Sound — plus Washington State Patrol — will be out looking to arrest DUI drivers.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are involved in DUI or any other alcohol-related criminal charges.