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All-out DUI patrol kicks off tonight

Starting tonight (Tuesday), people who choose to drink and drive in Yakima County stand a greatly increased chance of being caught and convicted. That's the message from virtually all of the county's police agencies, whose officers, deputies and troopers are forming a Target Zero Team - a multi-agency task force that will intensely hunt impaired drivers around the county. "As a state we are not only strengthening our DUI laws, but strengthening our approach to catching impaired drivers in the first place," said Gov. Jay Inslee. The Target Zero Team in Yakima County is funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The project goes far beyond traditional DUI squads of the past. * Experienced planners will use the latest GIS mapping software to guide patrols. Team members will know where crashes are occurring and which roads lead to high-collision areas. * State troopers, sheriff's deputies and city police officers will be out every night of the week looking for impaired drivers. Each officer was selected by his or her agency because they are the most motivated and experienced at arresting impaired drivers. * Traffic safety resource prosecutors will work with officers to improve the quality and content of officers' investigations and reports. These prosecutors are also available, upon request, to assist local prosecutors in presenting the best possible cases in court. "These will be intense, multi-agency, data-driven patrols with the goal of reducing fatalities and serious injuries," said Darrin Grondel, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. "We will use objective data to make sure we're patrolling the right roads, at the right time, to make sure we're arresting those who choose to drive while impaired," he said. The core of Yakima's Target Zero Team will be seven members of the Washington State Patrol working full time at the locations where history shows that DUIs have repeatedly killed themselves or others. County and local agencies will contribute deputies or officers as time and resources permit.

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