Police will 'bar hop' in Pierce County Saturday to stop drunk drivers

This weekend, law enforcement will be throwing a spotlight on the role bars play in keeping drunk drivers off the road.

Beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday, local, county and state law enforcement officers will team up to conduct a DUI emphasis patrol in Lakewood and the surrounding area. Within an hour of a DUI arrest, additional officers, including officers from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, will make educational visits to bars.

Launched in the summer of 2011, the Home Safe Bar program aims to raise awareness about how servers and bartenders can help reduce the number of impaired drivers on Pierce County’s roadways and bar owners can avoid costly litigation related to death or injury caused by a patron served too much alcohol.

“We’ve been able to save more than 20 people in the last 18 months by stepping up our impaired driving enforcement through full-time DUI Target Zero Teams,” said John Cheesman, chief of the Fircrest Police Department and chairman of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force. “Our effort to get bars on our team is just another tool we’re using to get to our goal: zero deaths on Pierce County’s roadways by 2030.”

Officers, chiefs and other command staff participating in the Home Safe Bar program will continue to “bar hop” this spring and summer to other jurisdictions, including Tacoma and Puyallup. It’s hoped that drinkers will do their part to prevent a tragedy by pre-arranging a designated driver or taxi home.

The multi-agency bar program is funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and local law enforcement member agencies of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force and is administered through Pierce County Community Connections. For more information, visit http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/pc/services/lawjust/dui/dui.htm .