Police beef up DUI patrols through the end of year

Here come the holidays — a time for pumpkin pie, presents and patrol cars.

Starting today through New Year’s Day, extra officers will be out and about in Snohomish County in search of drunken drivers.

Two years ago, during the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, cops from around Snohomish County arrested 409 people for DUI.

Last year, the Washington State Patrol alone made 261 DUI arrests during the holiday stretch in Snohomish County. Statewide, there were 1,876 holiday DUI arrests.

“We don’t want to sound like a broken record, but if people would just listen to the warnings they’d be a lot better off,” trooper Keith Leary said. “We’re telling them we’re going to be out there. We’re not making it a secret.”

The state patrol expects to have up to 50 more troopers along roadways in Northwest Washington at designated times through the end of the year. “That’s not counting the city departments or the sheriff’s departments,” Leary said.

In each of the past three years, at least one person has died in Snohomish County in crashes involving a drunken driver between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1.

In 2009, four longtime friends from Clearview were killed when a drunken driver crashed into their vehicle along Highway 9 near Marysville as they returned home from planning a birthday party. A Snohomish man pleaded guilty to four counts of vehicular homicide, admitting he had been drinking and caused the fatal crash. He was sentenced to prison.

In December 2011, an Everett man, 24, killed a pedestrian the day after Christmas by knocking him off a walkway on the U.S. 2 trestle. Sentencing is set for January.

“We want it to be a safe holiday,” Leary said. “We don’t want a tragedy to happen as it has the past three years.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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