LAW ENFORCEMENT | Drive high, get a DUI

Washingtonians are preparing for a great July 4 celebration weekend.

The Fourth of July is a favorite American holiday filled with fun, food, fireworks, friends and family. The Kitsap County “Target Zero” traffic safety task force is urging everyone to plan ahead. Designate a sober driver ahead of time because, “If you drive high, you’ll surely get busted with a DUI (arrest).”

“Fourth of July festivities can be so much fun,” said Marsha Masters, Kitsap County Target Zero manager. “People make plans for the partying, but many don’t make a plan for the ride home.” We’ve seen that too many drivers in Washington State think that it’s okay to drive ‘buzzed.’ The truth is you don’t have to be completely wasted to get arrested for impaired driving.”

In the U. S. during 2012, more than 10,300 fatalities involved impaired driving, which accounts for 31 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic deaths for that year. That equates to about one alcohol-impaired-driving death every 51 minutes. For Washington state in 2013, of the 440 total deaths involving motor vehicles, 182 (40 percent) involved impaired

Last year in Kitsap County, eight people were killed on roadways, down from 21 in 2012. These deaths were from a variety of reasons, with excessive vehicle speed and alcohol impairment at the top of the offense list. Masters said the decrease shows that the residents of Kitsap County are making better choices about their driving habits, but we have a long way to go to reach zero.

“Here is what we want people to understand,” said Masters. “Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, it impairs your judgment about whether you can or should drive. Sure, you may think that you’re ‘fine,’ but you’re not. The best thing to keep in mind is simple: If you’re going to drink, don’t drive, and if you’re going to drive, don’t drink.”

A few simple tips for a safe Independence Day:

• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;

• If you see an impaired driver on the road, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1.

• If you know people are about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

In Kitsap County, increased DUI patrols are funded through a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.


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