WENATCHEE — Whether you’re driving in Leavenworth, Oroville or anywhere in between, you’ll be seeing some extra police out on patrol tonight. Make that 10 extra law enforcement officers out on the streets and highways, watching specifically for intoxicated drivers
Police agencies throughout North Central Washington have been participating in DUI emphasis patrols since Nov. 21.
The agencies include the Washington State Patrol, the Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties, the Wenatchee, East Wenatchee and Brewster police departments.
The emphasis patrols, which put extra officers on duty specifically to watch for impaired drivers, continue through Tuesday. The overtime patrols are funded through the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Douglas County Sheriff Harvey Gjesdal said his agency would be hard pressed to find the extra money to pay for the patrols without the grants from the commission.
But with them, he said, he believes officers are keeping more intoxicated drivers off the streets.
Last year on New Year’s Eve, the emphasis patrol officers throughout North Central Washington cited or arrested seven people for driving under the influence, five felony drugs offenses, 10 misdemeanor drug arrests and a variety of other warrants or offenses. “Seven DUI arrests is a pretty big night,” Gjesdal said, noting those are all people who were out on the roads and could have caused accidents.
“I don’t think anybody sets out to drive intoxicated,” Gjesdal added.
But with the emphasis patrols, people are now more aware of the serious consequences that come with driving under the influence.
The new slogan, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” reinforces the notion that you don’t have to be “hammered” to be arrested for impaired driving.
Gjesdal added that he believes the emphasis patrols help both because more officers are out there to catch impaired drivers, and more drivers are aware that they have a better chance of getting caught.
The Traffic Safety Commission suggests that anyone planning to drink at a holiday party to think about how everyone will be getting home safely. “Designate a sober driver, take a taxi, stay the night,” an agency news release said, adding, “Don’t let a DUI ruin your holidays.”
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512