By Rikki King Herald Writer
EVERETT — Local police will get some extra help busting drunken drivers this holiday weekend.
The state Mobile Impaired Driving Unit will be in town. The unit is a van tricked out with Breathalyzer stations, holding cells and drug recognition experts.
Police officers need only drop off their drunken-driving suspects at the van.
“It frees up their time so they can get out and get another one,” said Shelly Trucksess Baldwin, a program manager with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
The van will be parked at Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in Everett today and at the Lynnwood Police Department on Saturday. The van also is meant as a visual deterrent to potential drunken drivers.
“We love it when it can be out where people can see it,” Trucksess Baldwin said.
Labor Day weekend is a fitting time for Snohomish County’s turn with the van, said trooper Mark Francis with the Washington State Patrol.
It’s the last big weekend for fun before fall sets in, he said. Federal grants help keep more troopers on the road looking for drunken driving.
“That way we don’t have to be so reactive responding to fatality crashes and serious-injury crashes,” he said.
Dropping a suspected drunken driver off at the van can save officers 45 minutes to an hour processing each arrest, he said.
In Washington, about eight people die in traffic fatalities during Labor Day weekend every year, according to the traffic safety commission. Usually, at least half of those incidents involve alcohol. People can avoid the mobile drunk tank by making sure they have a plan to get home, Trucksess Baldwin said.
“Be that hero,” she said. “Be the sober driver. Stay the night. Call a taxi, call a friend. Do the right thing.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you plan to drive, don’t drink.
If you plan to drink, designate a nondrinking driver and give that person your keys. Never ride with a driver who has been drinking.
Take a list of phone numbers with you for cabs or friends to call for a sober ride home.
If possible, plan to spend the night at the event.
If you are throwing a party, provide non-alcoholic alternatives, and never let guests drive drunk.
Always buckle up and properly secure children in their safety seats.
Always wear a helmet and protective gear when on a motorcycle, as these are your best defenses against an impaired driver.