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Extra patrols during holidays aimed at drunk drivers

A sure sign of the holiday season in Washington is the presence of extra traffic patrols on the state's streets and highways. Beginning on December 12, the state and a number of municipal police departments, including Vancouver's, will increase the number of officers who are directed to pay special attention to spotting drunk drivers.

The records maintained by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission show that on average, more than 100 people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day in the state. According to the Commission, impaired driving killed 278 and injured 371. The commission defines impaired driving as driving while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs and other substances that adversely affect a person's ability to control an automobile.

A recent ride-along report by KPTV in Vancouver provided a window into the increased enforcement program. The trooper who was highlighted in the video said that he does not especially selective about whom he stops. He explained that this policy was predicated on his knowledge that every drunk driver who is stopped and arrested may mean one more life saved.

Anyone who is stopped on suspicion of drunk driving during the holidays should be aware of his or her rights. Contacting an attorney before responding to questions from the police may be the difference between merely paying a fine and receiving a jail sentence. In any event, seeking legal advice as soon as possible after the stop may provide a helpful evaluation of the evidence, a chance to prepare a legal defense and the chance to avoid a conviction through a favorable plea agreement.

Source: Columbian.com, "Increased DUI patrols coming for holidays," Dec. 12, 2017

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