Spokane County — As one of the country’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry. But did you know that in 2014, there were 18 people killed in drunk-driving crashes on St. Paddy’s Day in the United States? This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol or using marijuana, local law enforcement have some advice for you: Don’t drive impaired. The Target Zero troopers, deputies and officers in Spokane County will be patrolling in a campaign to crack down on impaired drivers and keep our streets safe.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6p.m., March 16, to 5:59 a.m., March 18), more than a quarter (28%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 were even worse; between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. Please keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink; walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention and coordination puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
Local law enforcement arrested 2,162 drivers for DUI in Spokane County last year. Because of this effort, Spokane County is seeing a decrease in impaired driving fatalities.
“We are greatly encouraged by the downward trend in impaired driving fatalities,” said WSP Trooper Jeff Sevigney. “However, we still want to encourage everyone to make a plan before heading out to the festivities. Impaired driving is dangerous and illegal. If you are caught driving impaired, you will be arrested,” Trooper Sevigney warned.
Remember, whether you are gathering with friends at the local bar, or a private party, if alcohol or marijuana is part of the festivities, setting up a safe ride home before you start to party will save you a lot of headaches. A DUI arrest is not the worst that can happen, you can be charged with vehicular homicide or vehicular assault if someone is killed or injured while you were driving impaired. We want everyone to get home safely!