Reported by Rikki King / Herald Writer
Don’t drink and drive. The newest generation of drivers was raised on this mantra. Yet impaired drivers bloat the county jail. In Snohomish County, drinking and driving is one of the most common crimes. It also claims the most lives.
Impaired driving is the leading cause of traffic deaths in the state, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Drugs or alcohol play a part in half of all fatal wrecks in Snohomish County.
Between 2005 and 2009, an estimated 111 people in the county lost their lives in impaired-driving crashes. In comparison, there were 90 homicides.
Drivers who kill rarely spend more than a few years behind bars. Some legislators want to change that.
People don’t realize how many drivers have been drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs or using prescription medication, Washington State Patrol trooper Keith Leary said.
He says it’s staggering how much void is left in the lives of loved ones lost. The hurt spreads into the community.
In all those wrecks, there’s only one common factor.
“All those people who were involved in DUI crashes, that were arrested for DUI or killed somebody because they were DUI, all had a choice before they got in the car: not to drive,” he said.
Fatal Snohomish County accidents involving driver impairment, 2006-10
View Fatal accidents in Snohomish County related to impaired driving, 2006-2010 in a larger map
Impairment-related fatal collisions in Snohomish County
Impaired drivers in fatal wrecks
Impairment-related traffic fatalities, 2006-10