As St. Patrick’s Day revelers donned shamrocks and dyed their beer green last earlier this month, Pierce County law enforcement made some preparations of their own.
As part of a special pre-St. Patrick’s Day DUI emphasis patrol on March 14, a roving team of 35 law enforcement officers, including six able to identify drugged drivers, stopped 463 motorists for traffic violations in Puyallup and the surrounding area.
Twenty-five were arrested for impaired driving; an additional six were arrested for other drug violations.
One driver was arrested after passing out in a fast food drive-through and another after he attempted to drive the wrong way into a major intersection. An 18-year-old who had been drinking at a friend’s house was arrested for minor in possession. Officers also transported a drunken driver to Enumclaw, where he was wanted on a $20,000 warrant for previous DUIs. Additionally, officers arrested a driver with a blood-alcohol content over twice the legal limit of .08 — who had an unrestrained child in the car. The driver also was charged with reckless endangerment of a minor.
“We saw lots of cabs and designated drivers ferrying people home at the end of the night. Many left their cars in the parking lots of area bars rather than risk getting arrested,” said Sgt. Bob Thompson of the Puyallup Police Department, who acted as the law enforcement coordinator for the multi-agency special patrol known as X-52. “Still, we had too many motorists thinking they could pull a deadly shenanigan during the Irish holiday and not pay the price.”
People convicted of DUI face serious consequences, including jail time, the loss of their driver’s license, an ignition interlock on their vehicle, alcohol treatment and education, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses that can total as much as $10,000.
Two officers from the Washington State Liquor Control Board performed compliance checks on six bars and taverns. The Main Garden Restaurant and Wayne’s Inn Bar and Grill in Puyallup received warnings for serving apparently intoxicated persons.
Besides the Washington State Liquor Control Board, 17 law enforcement agencies participated in the Tacoma Pierce County DUI Task Force special patrol. They were the Edgewood, Roy, DuPont, University Place, Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Lakewood, Fircrest, Fife, Milton, Orting, Bonney Lake, Sumner, and Puyallup police departments, along with the Puyallup Tribal Police, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Washington State Patrol, which contributed six troopers and dispatch for the patrol.
DUI emphasis patrols are funded throughout the year by local law enforcement agencies in Pierce County. X-52 patrols are funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and take place 52 weeks of the year statewide.