Police 'bar blitz' targets Tacoma's drunk drivers

Police will be bar hopping in Tacoma Saturday night in an effort to raise awareness about drinking and driving. The weekend bar blitz will launch a month-long public awareness program near the sites of the county’s most frequent fatal impaired driving crashes. Dozens of bars will be visited by a multi-agency law enforcement team within an hour of a DUI arrest by Pierce County’s Target Zero Team.

Since July, the special team of five to seven troopers, deputies and officers have watched for and arrested impaired drivers on a full-time basis in high crash zones in and near Tacoma, Fife, Puyallup and Lakewood.

In this weekend’s kick-off of the Home Safe Bar program, bar managers and drinkers will be invited to “do their part in sparing families an unthinkable loss,” said John Cheesman, chief of the Fircrest Police Department and chair of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force.

Police chiefs, command staff and Liquor Control Board officers will visit bars where drivers indicated they were drinking last. They will ask bar personnel to be aware of the continuous Target Zero Team enforcement in their area, observe the state’s alcohol laws and assist their customers in confirming designated drivers and arranging taxis. Drinkers will receive “Choose your Ride” information, depicted by a picture of a vehicle which is half cab, half police car.

Assisting law enforcement in making visits to bars will be Tacoma resident Frank Blair, whose 24-year-old daughter Sheena, died on Feb. 26. She was hit head-on in Everett by an impaired driver whose blood-alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit. Blair will provide bar and tavern owners in deadly crash areas with a memorial photo of his daughter to thank them in advance for observing the state’s alcohol laws.

In addition to ten local law enforcement agencies participating in the Target Zero Team, Home Safe Bar Blitz partners include the Washington State Patrol and the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Also this weekend, in addition to the Target Zero DUI enforcement team, a multi-agency, 20-officer DUI emphasis patrol is planned by the DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force in conjunction with the Tacoma Police Department.

“This weekend will provide a good opportunity for everyone planning a night out with alcohol to pre-arrange a designated driver or taxi,” said Tacoma Police Lt. Corey Darlington.