Increased DUI Patrols Over Memorial Day Weekend

 Major thoroughfares and nightlife hotspots, among other places, will be targeted in a coordinated DUI enforcement effort this holiday weekend. 

Mayor Mike McGinn announced today that the Seattle Police Department will field increased DUI enforcement patrols this Memorial Day weekend, in conjunction with Target Zero DUI emphasis patrols by other city, county and state law enforcement agencies. The City will also conduct education about the risks of impaired driving as part of the Be Super Safe campaign in accordance with the City’s Road Safety Action Plan.

“Recent tragedies on our streets have reminded Seattle of the dangers of impaired driving”, said McGinn. “Seattle Police will be out there to protect people on our roads and enforce the law against those choose to drive drunk.”

The Seattle Police Department’s additional officers will be patrolling citywide, but with special emphasis near nightlife hotspots and on major thoroughfares. The Washington State Patrol will also be out in force on I-5, I-90 and State Route 520. The City’s network of Dynamic Message Signs will display a special enforcement message all weekend long to alert drivers to the increased enforcement patrols. With more than 20 Dynamic Message Signs across Seattle, the City will be able to reach more than 1 million drivers over the holiday weekend and make them think twice about driving impaired.

“The days of the police just giving you a ride home if you’re caught drunk driving are long over – if you drink and drive, you will be arrested,” said Interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel.

“Through our Road Safety Action Plan, the City of Seattle is making our street safer for everyone and drivers can help by making good decisions about drinking and driving,” said SDOT Director Peter Hahn. “Rather than getting behind the wheel after a few drinks, take advantage of our late night pre-paid parking program, catch a cab back home and pick up your car safely in the morning.”

The City will also be conducting Be Super Safe educational outreach at bars and other nightlife hotspots in areas of DUI emphasis patrols. High-visibility enforcement such as emphasis patrols have been shown to increase the effectiveness of DUI enforcement. The more people know that these efforts are occurring, the bigger the reduction in risky behavior.

Nearly 50 percent of the fatalities that occur on Seattle streets involve someone who made the decision to travel impaired. On average, someone in the United States is killed in an alcohol-related motor vehicle collision every 51 minutes.

As part of the Seattle Nightlife Initiative, the City has developed safe alternatives for people out enjoying the holiday weekend. In November 2011 the City installed five late night taxi stands that provide a safe and visible sidewalk location for people to grab taxis in the city’s entertainment hubs. They operate nightly from 10PM to 6AM in Fremont, Belltown, Downtown, Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill. In addition, every on street parking pay station opens at 10 p.m. so drivers can pay for the first two hours of parking the next morning, giving themselves a little more time to get home safely and retrieve their vehicles the next day. King County Metro also offers late night bus service that connects many of Seattle’s busiest nightlife areas. More information can be found at http://www.seattle.gov/nightlife .

This effort is part of an on-going partnership including law enforcement, the Seattle Department of Transportation, Public Health – Seattle & King County, and many community stakeholders and concerned neighbors, with the long-term goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries on Seattle roads by 2030. It is also part of a statewide “Target Zero” effort to crack down on impaired drivers, coordinated by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.