With Thanksgiving next week, the holidays are fast approaching. Of course, Thanksgiving does not merely signal the beginning of the holiday shopping season, long lines, and short-lived sales.
It also signals the beginning of holiday parties with your family, friends, and office workers.
For those who do not plan carefully before attending their various holiday engagements, it also signals a time where police in and around Seattle, King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties increase their vigilance towards those driving under the influence.
Local police claim to do so for good reason. From 2008-12, they claim, an average of 49 people died in automobile accidents in Washington between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. The leading cause of these accidents is driving under the influence, although "cause" is a big word here.
The story is similar every year. Come Thanksgiving, police begin a DUI program that continues through the New Year.
In 2010, more than 3,577 people were arrested statewide between November 25 and January 2 for suspicion of DUI. Of those, 876 were in King County. That 18,346 were arrested for DUI by the Washington State Patrol statewide in 2010 shows the seriousness with which law enforcement treats DUIs during the holidays. Nearly 1/5 of all DUI arrests in 2010 occurred during their annual holiday push that lasts barely 1/12 of the year.
Although there has not been an official announcement for a DUI task force in 2014, expect one. I have already mentioned the task force of 2010.
There was also a task force in 2012 throughout Walla Walla, Asotin and Garfield Counties. And one in 2013, led by the Washington State Patrol and the Snohomish Sherriff's office. The earliest reference I could find online is from 2003, although earlier programs surely existed.
It is every driver's responsibility to know when he or she has surpassed the legal limit and to plan for that occurrence. It is not wrong to let your hair down and have a good time at a holiday party. Driving home afterwards can lead to tragedy.
Nearly 50 percent of the fatalities that occur on the streets of Seattle result from someone's decision to drive impaired they say (without a definition of "impairment").
Tips to avoid a holiday DUI and ensure a happy holiday season:
- Lay off the Egg Nog or other festive libations
- Before you go out, choose a designated driver
- Call a cab
- Use Uber
- If you are in downtown Seattle, the city operates additional late-night taxi stands as part of its Nightlife Initiative. They are open in Belltown, Capitol Hill, Downtown/Pike Place Market, Fremont, and Pioneer Square. They are in safe and visible locations.
- If you are arrested, provide your papers (license, insurance, and registration) but decline everything else and ask for an attorney. This is general advice and does not replace the specific advice that a trained and experienced Seattle DUI attorney will provide.