If you choose to drive while impaired this holiday season, there are 120 police agencies around Washington committed to making sure you are arrested and successfully prosecuted.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission is funding a significant number of local emphasis patrols, in which officers will work overtime to provide extra coverage at the hours when most DUI-related collisions occur.
"Keeping your families together and our roads safe is our first priority this holiday season," said Traffic Safety Commission Director Darrin Grondel.
Although enforcement is a key component of changing driver behavior, officials were quick to add seat belts and other occupant protection devices are saving lives as well. Being a sober driver protects you from yourself; buckling up helps protect you from irresponsible drivers.
Among the 120 agencies out in force will be the Washington State Patrol.
"Our troopers have seen the results of impaired driving up close, and very personally," said WSP Deputy Chief Curt Hattell. "The only thing worse than making a death notification is doing so during what should be a festive holiday season."
During the emphasis patrols, troopers work right alongside county sheriff's deputies and city police officers and are guided by data that helps predict the areas where DUIs are most likely to cause a tragedy.
In an event at the Seattle office of AAA Washington, the agencies demonstrated an "Impairment Suit" provided by Ford Motor Company. The suit is designed to affect the wearer's balance, giving a sober person the feeling of what it's like to be impaired by drugs or alcohol.
"At Ford, we work hard to advance the cause of driver education and safety," said Ellen Owen of Ford's Seattle Regional Sales Office. "The impairment suit is a fantastic teaching tool that simulates the physical effects alcohol can have on a driver. We're very pleased that Washington State Patrol and AAA have been able to use it in their drunk driving awareness campaign this holiday season."
There's one more thing everyone can do to help make for a joyous and safe holiday season: use your influence to help keep others from driving while impaired. Saving a life is the best gift you can give this holiday season.