Expect increased DUI patrols and bar visits on St. Patty's Day

Don't count on the luck of the Irish to get you home safely if you've had too much to drink over the St. Patrick's holiday.

St. Patty's celebrations will bring out more than green beer from March 14-17 when 70 law enforcement officers from 30 agencies in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties team up to look for impaired drivers.

The DUI emphasis patrols are organized by the King County Target Zero Task Force, the Snohomish County DUI & Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force, and the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force.

They will include visits to bars early in the evening to promote a safe ride home. DUI and bar enforcement teams will work in north King County on Friday; in Pierce and South King County on Saturday; and, in Snohomish County, beginning at 4 p.m. on Monday when many will head from work to bars. The Washington State Patrol will have extra troopers on the road throughout the weekend.

Bar patrons in all three counties will be able to obtain scan cards from their bartenders or visiting officer-volunteer teams which can be easily used to call local taxi companies. Follow-up visits from command staff of local law enforcement agencies and the Liquor Control Board will be made within an hour of a DUI arrest or on the following day. At that time, the bar's track record on turning out drivers who say they were drinking at the bar before their arrest will be reviewed with on-site owners and personnel.

"Unfortunately, some have turned St. Patty's Day celebrations into another deadly drinking and driving long weekend on the social calendar," said Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary.

From 2005 to 2013, impaired driving was the cause of 63 percent of all road deaths over the St. Patrick's holiday in Pierce, Snohomish and King counties. During this period, 12 people lost their lives after someone got behind the wheel and drove drunk or otherwise impaired.

Motorists who anticipate drinking this weekend have one sure way to avoid the plenty of "green" they will need to cover the costs of a DUI, said John Cheesman, chief of the Fircrest Police Department and chair of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force. "The way to avoid getting arrested is to arrange for a sober ride home before the festivities begin."

"An impaired driving death is a 100 percent preventable crime," said Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter, who will accompany a Home Safe Bar team and welcome over 25 DUI officers to his city Saturday night to make sure his city remains fatality-free.


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