WENATCHEE — The number of local motorists receiving DUI tickets during a holiday enforcement period dropped from 92 in 2011 to 54 in 2012 in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties.
The decrease may be the result of more people using designated drivers or calling cabs, said Mike Harris, chief of patrol with the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over DUI enforcement campaign ran from Nov. 21 through New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve is one of their biggest nights, and this year, 4 people were arrested in the three-county area for driving under the influence that night. That’s down from 7 arrests on New Year’s Eve in 2011.
Several officers worked a total of 32 hours of overtime that night, stopping 76 people, said Eveline Roy, who manages the Target Zero program in the region. Several other arrests were made for a variety of other criminal and misdemeanor offenses, including a misdemeanor drug arrest and a citation for not having an alcohol ignition interlock.
Roy said she believes fewer people were arrested because more people are becoming aware of the holiday emphasis patrols and aren’t willing to take the risk and drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
She said in North Central Washington, the very first arrest under this year’s holiday emphasis patrol in November resulted in an arrest for driving while under the influence of marijuana, which had just become legal.
It may be legal to smoke it, but it’s not legal to drive under its influence, Roy noted. Just like anyone arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, their car was impounded for 12 hours, she said.
Statewide, the campaign helped with the arrest of 3,446 drivers for DUI during the six-week period.
The campaign was supported by the Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan County Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force with funding by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512