Law enforcement officers who began removing impaired drivers from Pierce County roads Thanksgiving Day are urging potential drinking drivers to call taxis and line-up sober designated drivers again this weekend.
The Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force will conduct a “Night of a Thousand Stars” enforcement this Saturday night, Dec. 14, midway through a statewide five-week holiday crackdown on drunk drivers and in conjunction with its local Tow and Go and Home Safe Bar programs.
The effort, hosted by the Fife Police Department, will involve more than two dozen officers, deputies and troopers who will hunt for impaired drivers on high-fatality and injury roads in and around the city of Fife, including Interstate 5, beginning at 8:30 p.m. Ten towing companies will be on hand to offer free tows for drivers who have had too much to drink at a bar beginning Saturday night and through New Year’s Eve. And to discourage over-serving and assist patrons in lining up sober rides home, a combined citizen and law enforcement Home Safe Bar team also will be out bar-hopping.
Greg Dreiling, owner of Liberty Towing in University Place and coordinator of the Tow and Go program, said bar patrons need merely to ask their participating bartender for help calling for a tow. Approximately 200 bars and taverns in the county are being given information about the program, including a list of participating towers in their area prepared to offer up to 10-mile free tows and rides home.
“Drivers have options to avoid being arrested this weekend,” said Lt. Kevin Farris of the Fife Police Department. “We hope they won’t throw their chances of escaping arrest out the window by trying to make it home undetected after a night of drinking.”
“It’s amazing how many people think they can outfox a breathalyzer,” said John Cheesman, Chief of the Fircrest Police Department and Chairman of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force. “They’ll drink coffee, chew gum, even meditate to try to manipulate a reading. But there’s only one sure way to avoid flunking a breath test and that’s to not drink at all.”
Fifteen drivers on Black Friday, including those impaired by illegal and prescription drugs, were arrested during the task force’s emphasis in the area of Sumner, Bonney Lake and Puyallup. Several officers were diverted from the patrol when a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured soon after leaving a bar in Sumner.
Comprehensive efforts like these to reduce deaths and injuries over the past three years in Fife and Pierce County have reduced impaired driving deaths and serious injuries by 42 percent. Task force programs are funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and the Washington Impaired Driving Council and are administered by Pierce County Community Connections.
Gloria Mansfield Averill