From city streets to state highways, law enforcement agencies are reflecting on DUI arrests and vehicular collisions, while also exploring methods to keep roadways safer in the new decade.
Locally, Federal Way police arrested just one individual for driving under the influence over the 2020 New Years Eve holiday. The arrest occurred shortly after 10 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2020.
“One arrest for DUI … is not unusual for us,” said Federal Way police Cmdr. Kurt Schwan. The Federal Way Police Department is a full-service municipal law enforcement agency, which means the mission for public safety is much broader than traffic enforcement. FWPD responds to a wide range of service calls, such as domestic violence, CPR in progress, and many other types of calls, he added.
“We are pleased to report that in the time period December 31, 2019 and January 1, 2020, the Federal Way community did not experience a single DUI collision.”
In 2019, Federal Way police made 159 total DUI arrests in comparison to the 126 DUI arrests in 2018 for an increase of 26%, Schwan told the Mirror.
Broken down into subcategories, Federal Way police did see an 8% increase in DUI accidents from 52 in 2018 to 56 accidents in 2019.
Hit-and-run accidents were down 16% from 344 in 2018 to 288 in 2019, along with a decrease in vehicle vs. pedestrian accidents with 66 in 2018 to 64 in 2019. Police found a 13% increase in vehicle vs. bicyclist accidents with 17 in 2019, up two incidents from 15 recorded in 2018.
During the previous year from Dec. 31, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019, there were no reported DUI accidents and no DUI arrests were made over the New Years Eve holiday in Federal Way.
“The primary mission of traffic enforcement is to reduce the frequency of collisions,” he said. “Federal Way police officers are encouraged to maintain visibility and actively enforce traffic laws, including DUIs.”
Comparing 2018 to 2019, the total accidents occurring in Federal Way was reduced from 2,174 to 1,802, showing a reduction of 17%, Schwan noted. In addition, the total FWPD enforcement activity increased from 7,619 to 8,345, an increase of 10%.
“We are pleased to report that in 2019, the fatality accidents in our city was reduced from eight to three,” Schwan shared, adding that this shows a reduction of 63%, as well as an overall reduction of accidents as previously stated, by 17%.
DUI enforcement will continue to be a priority for the Federal Way Police Department, and the department plans to continue to conduct periodic DUI and other traffic emphasis patrols in the upcoming year to keep the community safe, he stated.
“For law-biding citizens, traffic accidents present the greatest threat to their safety,” Schwan noted. “The Federal Way Police Department will continue to make traffic safety a priority to keep our citizens safe.”
Across the state, 95 impaired drivers spent the first day of the New Year in handcuffs.
Washington State Patrol troopers conducted extra patrols from Dec. 31, 2019 to Jan. 1, 2020 to ensure “we all got to our destinations safely,” WSP wrote in a recent blog post.
On the New Year’s holiday, WSP troopers made 95 DUI arrests across the state in the two days, a decrease from last year’s total of 100 DUI arrests.
District 2, which includes King County, had the highest amount of arrests in the eight Washington State Patrol districts with 20 DUI arrests. In comparison, WSP made 27 DUI arrests in District 2 over the New Year’s holiday last year.
“This holiday, we were proud to be a part of the Western States Traffic Safety Coalition’s ‘No Safe Place for Impaired Drivers’ emphasis,” WSP wrote.
Washington State Patrol worked with agencies in Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada and Arizona “with the mission of saving lives on our roadways.”
The extra patrols included specially trained troopers to help identify and detect drug impaired drivers, according to a WSP press release.
Most WSP troopers receive additional training in drug impaired driver detection, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), to specially focus on detecting drivers impaired by drugs, WSP noted.
Troopers trained as drug recognition experts, who are training to identify what drugs a driver may be impaired by, were also on patrol over New Years to assist in identifying and detecting drug impaired drivers.
“You can’t drive safely if you’re impaired,” WSP wrote. “That’s why it’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, or any potentially impairing drug–prescribed or over the counter … Driving while impaired by any substance—legal or illegal—puts you and others in harm’s way.”