DUI is the leading cause of death on Washington roadways, accountable for nearly half of the 439 fatalities on the state’s roads during 2012. That’s why between Aug. 16 and Sept. 2 extra officers will be looking for drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs during the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
Even though Washington legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, it is still illegal and dangerous to drive under the influence of marijuana. Studies have found that marijuana-positive drivers are twice as likely to crash as other drivers.
Marijuana use can slow reaction time, decrease the ability of a driver to maintain lane position and diminish the ability to pay attention to the tasks of driving. It also interferes with a driver’s ability to perform divided-attention tasks, such as steering and maintaining vehicle speed at the same time.
Officers can tell when a driver is experiencing other effects of marijuana influence, such as relaxed inhibitions, altered perception of time and distance, disorientation, incomplete thought processes and increased pulse.
Officer Ira Cavin of the Yakima Police Department is a drug recognition expert, which enables him to identify alcohol and drug impaired drivers. He said, “Every impaired driver I am able to take off the road is potentially preventing a tragedy from happening to someone’s family.”
The goal of these extra patrols is to keep families safe during this vacation travel time. Those who see a DUI are asked to call 911.
Last year in Yakima County, during the same time period, officers on routine and extra patrols arrested 95 people for DUI. For all of 2012, in Yakima County, 1,859 people were charged with DUI.
The Grandview, Moxee, Sunnyside, Toppenish, Union Gap and Yakima police departments, the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol will participate in this Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.