Radio host Maury Eskenazi makes his fourth drink during the annual “DUI Awareness Show” at the KRKO 1380 AM office in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Radio host Maury Eskenazi makes his fourth drink during the annual “DUI Awareness Show” at the KRKO 1380 AM office in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

KRKO host drinks on air — to show dangers of impaired driving

It’s become an annual event for the Everett radio show, as DUIs remain a deadly problem.

EVERETT — The room smelled faintly of vodka. The radio show host slurred his words.

Maury Eskenazi of KRKO 1380 AM was drinking while deejaying.

As part of his annual “DUI Awareness Show” he slams back some cocktails to highlight how alcohol impairs the ability of even a veteran 61-year-old broadcaster to speak clearly, much less operate a car. The show, a roundtable broadcast with a panel of experts, is sponsored by a grant from Snohomish County DUI & Target Zero Task Force.

On the 10th year of the DUI show, Eskenazi drank orange juice laced with 70 proof Smirnoff lemon vodka in a paper cup.

“It is not to make light of getting drunk, but what can happen,” Eskenazi said.

The format is meant to spark a conversation about the impact of DUIs, and to hit home the seriousness.

“Every day almost 29 people in the United States die in an alcohol-impaired vehicle crash,” he said.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, in 2017 there were 25,619 DUI arrests statewide, with 278 driver-impaired traffic fatalities in 2016.

“Take DUI as a crime and it kills and impairs more people physically than all other crimes combined,” said Lynnwood police officer Mark Brinkman. “I held a dying girl in my arms from a DUI accident and that still affects me to this day.”

For Brinkman and others on the panel, the show is a holiday tradition, like an annual gathering of old friends who unite for a cause.

Eskenazi was the only one drinking. The others munched on Cheetos and Fritos.

The two-hour show was live. Most topics were discussed in 4-minute segments that were intermixed with classic rock. As listeners heard “Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf, Eskenazi mixed up a fresh drink on the makeshift bar where an empty can of peanuts served as an ice bucket.

A boisterously chatty guy, it was hard to determine when the alcohol was doing the talking or if it was just Maury being Maury.

Eskenazi blew into a breath test at intervals. The device that calculates blood alcohol content is a metric of intoxication but isn’t the definitive test of a person’s impairment.

After two shots, Brinkman put him to his own test while listeners heard music.

“Let’s try this, Maury: ‘Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,’” he said.

Eskenazi butchered a “peck” into a “pack” and Brinkman told him he failed the test.

“Is that what you do … when you pull someone over for a DUI?” Eskenazi asked.

No, it is not one of the official sobriety tests.

After three shots Eskenazi was blowing .058 and jovially calling everyone in the room his best friend.

He was below the .08 legal limit, but would you want him to be behind the wheel of a car?

“If your ability to operate a motor vehicle is diminished in any appreciable degree then you very well may be prosecuted for driving under the influence,” said Snohomish County prosecutor-elect Adam Cornell. “Why even take a chance?”

In addition to legal ramifications, a DUI can cost $10,000 to $15,000 in attorney fees, he said.

State Farm agent Teri Busch explained the impact a DUI infraction has on insurance rates. “It will go up. That’s a given,” she said.

DUIs are preventable.

“We’re not saying don’t go out and drink and have fun with friends,” Brinkman said. “Plan ahead … Leave your car home. Have a designated driver. A designated driver is not the one who had the least to drink. It is someone who has had zero drinks.”

Target Zero manager Stacey McShane said about 100 DUI arrests are made a day in Washington this time of year. In 2010, a relative was killed by a drunk driver who had two prior DUIs.

“The statistics are getting worse,” Brinkman said. “People who are involved in crashes and getting hurt and deaths being caused by impaired drivers are actually on the increase.”

The mix of cannabis and alcohol is the reason for the spike, he said.

“The impairment increases when you combine those two drug categories.”

That’s why people do it, to get more wasted, and yet still think they can drive.

It’s not safe, or legal, to drive after using marijuana, Brinkman said.

Capt. Tom Dixon with state Liquor and Cannabis Board enforcement pointed out the widespread accessibility, with about 500 cannabis retailers in the state.

The show included part of a pre-recorded interview Eskenazi did with a mother whose son and his girlfriend were killed in a pot-related crash that was caused by the son. She detailed the tragic impact on her and the girlfriend’s families. The mom was not at the roundtable.

After six shots in 2½ hours, Eskenazi was at .077.

The amount a person weighs affects the reading. He said he weighs 230 pounds, sucking in his stomach.

Legally, he was below the limit, but said he was not fit to drive. He hadn’t planned to, anyway.

One of his “best friends” on the expert panel gave him a ride home.

How to listen

The “DUI Awareness Show” can be streamed as a podcast (without music) at bit.ly/2T5z1mr.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A driver struck a woman in a motorized wheelchair Saturday in Lynnwood. (Lynnwood police)
Woman on wheelchair hit by car in Lynnwood, seriously hurt

The woman was on a sidewalk, passing by a drive-thru in Lynnwood, when a driver pulled out and hit her.

A barge worker hauls in an oil boom before heading off with the remains of the Mukilteo Ferry Dock ramp and pier on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. With the new dock in operation, all that is left is to tear down the old ticket building. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Old Mukilteo ferry dock afloat on the barge of ‘Lincoln Logs’

The haul included 213 wood pilings, 15 concrete pilings, 47 steel pilings and a “Speed Limit 15” sign.

State Patrol worker from Everett charged with attempted child rape

Trevor Smith worked as a commercial vehicle enforcement officer assigned inspecting school buses.

FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2021, file photo, the Legislative Building is shown partially shrouded in fog at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's richest residents, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, would pay a wealth tax on certain financial assets worth more than $1 billion under a proposed bill whose sponsor says she is seeking a fair and equitable tax code. Under the bill, starting Jan. 1, 2022, for taxes due in 2023, a 1% tax would be levied not on income, but on "extraordinary" assets ranging from cash, publicly traded options, futures contracts, and stocks and bonds. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Federal package could drive more than $10B to Washington

The state would get $7.6B for COVID response, schools and child care. Snohomish County is in line for $160M.

Samantha Lake
Missing girl, 12, found safely

Seattle FBI located Samantha Lake on Friday.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Jeanette Ho Shin Weddell, 96, died of COVID-19 on Dec. 29, 2020. (Contributed photo)
Marysville grandmother, 96, was one in half a million lost

In a week when the president took time to mourn COVID deaths, local families were grieving, too.

An access road leads into plot of land located in north Darrington that could potentially be used to build a 30-acre Wood Innovation Center, which will house CLT manufacturing and modular building companies on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Darrington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$6 million grant is green light for Darrington timber center

The Darrington Wood Innovation Center is set to become a reality — bringing roughly 150 jobs with it.

Report shows vaccine inequities in Snohomish County

The county’s Hispanic population is getting doses at a third of the rate of white residents.

Most Read