The Washington State Patrol had extra officers out on the roadways during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Yet despite extensive media coverage alerting drivers of the extra enforcement efforts, and warning people to refrain from drinking and driving, many did anyway.
In Pierce and Thurston counties, troopers made 90 arrests for drunk driving between Thanksgiving morning and 5 a.m. the following day. This number is just one less than the number of arrests made last year. The police and sheriff's deputies in nearby towns also made some DUI arrests, bringing the total to more than 100. Perhaps as a result of the increased patrols, there were no fatal car accidents over the holiday weekend.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the state are ramping up their DUI enforcement. More officers will be on the lookout for impaired drivers through the end of the year.
Many states set up DUI checkpoints at busy intersections at various times throughout the year, especially the holiday season, when more people tend to drink at holiday functions and then drive home. At these checkpoints, police pull over motorists and question them and determine if they are impaired. Such checkpoints are not used in Washington, however.
In the states that use them, DUI checkpoints are heavily publicized in the media so that drivers are warned to be aware of them and take steps to reduce their alcohol consumption or use a designated driver. The checkpoints have been known to significantly reduce alcohol-related crashes.
DUI checkpoints are controversial, since a police officer typically needs to have some sort of reasonable cause before initiating a traffic stop. However, they are allowed under federal law, which means that it is up to each state to decide if they are legal. In 11 states, including Washington, police do not use checkpoints either because they are illegal under state law or because there is no authority for them.
Source: The Olympian, "More than 100 DUI arrests made in Pierce, Thurston over holiday weekend," Chelsea Krotzer, Nov. 27, 2012