Extra DUI patrols in force for the holidays

Traffic deaths involving intoxicated drivers have recently increased

Law enforcement agencies across the state, including many in Clark County, are participating in extra patrols aimed at getting intoxicated drivers off the roads during the holiday season.

“The Washington Traffic Safety Commission funds these extra patrols because we want every family to enjoy the holidays with their loved ones,” said Darrin Grondel, WTSC director. “Unfortunately, we are very aware that deadly traffic crashes can turn holiday dreams into nightmares.”

Recently there has been an increase in traffic deaths involving DUI, especially among drivers who test positive for two or more drugs, or both alcohol and drugs.

“Our agency is charged with examining every detail of every deadly crash,” Grondel said. “When we look at this data, we have to wonder why we are seeing so many deadly crashes where drivers are mixing drugs and alcohol.”

In Clark County, the Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver and Washougal police departments, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, and Washington State Patrol will be teaming up and participating in the extra patrols, with the support of the Clark and Skamania county Target Zero Task Force.

According to WTSC statistics, nearly three times as many drivers involved in deadly DUI crashes had multiple substances in their bodies as those with only alcohol or a single drug.

A tragic example of this occurred on June 12, 2015, at 2:50 a.m., when a man in his early 30s was driving under the combined influence of alcohol, marijuana and ecstasy.

According to a press release, he entered the eastbound lanes of state Route 500 in Vancouver traveling in the wrong direction. Driving at approximately 90 mph, he hit another vehicle traveling the correct direction head-on. His car flipped and caught on fire, killing him and his passenger.

The driver of the other vehicle was severely injured and found unconscious at the scene.

Test results showed the wrong way driver was positive for THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana), and ecstasy and had a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent.

The Clark and Skamania counties’ Target Zero effort aims to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/targetzero.clark.skamania.