Holiday spirits: numbers from holiday DUI crackdown released


From Dec. 13 through the end of the year police departments across Clark County put extra focus on patrolling for impaired drivers during a time of year they describe as one of Washington’s most deadly. 

State officials reported earlier this year that fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by two or more drugs, or combination of alcohol and drugs, have more than doubled over the last six years, from 78 in 2011 to 171 in 2016.  

According to numbers released by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, over the course of 215 hours, officers from Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol, made 880 contacts. That included 48 arrests for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. 

“Those who chose to drive while impaired ran a strong risk of being arrested, but our goal was not to increase DUI arrests,” said Corporal Brent Donaldson of the Vancouver Police Department in a news release. “Our focus was to do everything possible to ensure people made it home safe this holiday season.”

The DUI crackdown caps a year that the safety commission describes as a successful year of traffic safety in Clark County. Compared to 2016, they report, severe injuries caused by impaired drivers last year decreased by close to 58 percent, and deaths dropped by almost 78 percent. 

“We were proud to partner with local law enforcement in making Clark County’s roads safer this holiday season,” said Hilary Torres of the Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force, which is funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. 

 “Serious injuries and fatalities caused by impaired drivers have both decreased significantly in 2017, and the extra holiday DUI patrols helped us continue this trend.”

Right back at it

Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force wasted no time getting back to work in Clark County in 2018. 

Last week, on Jan. 11, police officers from Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal and the Clark County Sheriff's Office set up camp in the Uptown Village area of Main Street in Vancouver for a pedestrian safety emphasis. An officer in plain clothes watched to see if drivers were yielding to those on foot, communicating to other officers if they did not. 

The officers were assisted by Clark Regional Emergency Service Agency. 

Over a 30-hour period, the officers made 172 contacts, 22 citations, 117 warnings and two arrests.


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