You better watch out: Police patroling for drunken drivers

Those readying for holiday parties, festive meals and family visits may neglect a key part of their plans: a safe ride home.

This past weekend, Washington State Patrol troopers arrested 33 impaired drivers in Snohomish County alone, trooper Keith Leary said.

Troopers always see an increase in impaired driving around the holidays, Leary said. They ask people making holiday plans to take a few moments to arrange a safe way to get to their destinations and get home.

Dozens of extra police officers take part in drunken-driving emphasis patrols around the county from late November through New Year’s, Leary said. The overtime is paid with traffic-safety grants.

Every year, they pull over people who sat down at Christmas dinner or a holiday party, had too many drinks and tried to make it home, Leary said.

“We don’t give breaks. We’re out there 365 days a year,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or not. There are no warnings for drinking and driving.”

Drivers often tell troopers they were going only a few blocks or that they didn’t realize how much they’d had, Leary said. It doesn’t matter.

“If you even have to think about if you’re OK, you probably should get the designated driver, because chances are you’re not,” he said.

Leary knows drivers have heard the warnings before. He just hopes they make the right choice.

“We tell people this every year, but it’s still disregarded,” he said. “People disregard our warnings until it’s too late. If you kill somebody, you can’t go back.”

Rikki King: 425-339-3449;

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