This holiday season, the Chelan County Sheriff's Office is warning those who drink to steer clear of the wheel or they will be busted for driving under the influence.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) is holding their first-ever Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign start Nov. 21 and going through the holiday season up through Jan.1.
WSTC Media Relations Consultant Kristina Moy said in an ongoing effort to reduce DUI crashes, injuries and deaths, law enforcement in Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan Counties will be out on roadways during the holiday season in search of impaired drivers.
Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett, said the holiday season has always caused more drinking and driving because there are a lot more informal and formal gatherings to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's eve parties.
"My personal view is there are more opportunities for alcohol to be served and a lot of people have time off. With holiday hours and travel, a combination of drinking and driving isn't a good match," Burnett said.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission uses their funds to distribute money to different law enforcement agencies so they can have their employees work overtime in order to have more officers patrolling the streets for drivers who are under the influence.
Burnett said the point of the campaign is to try and prevent those serious injuries and accidents caused by drunk drivers.
"You always hear the story of the family traveling during the holidays and they get killed by a drunk driver. These things do happen," Burnett said. "That's the whole point, it's to take out the aggressive drivers."
The advertising campaign is to encourage people not to drink and drive. If someone wants to drink, they need a sober driver. However, Burnett said people will still drink and drive so that is the point of putting extra men and women out to patrol the streets so they can enforce it and find the intoxicated impaired drivers.
Burnett said WTSC gives law enforcement agencies funds to have extra DUI patrols during the times they think more people are out on the road, such as Memorial weekend and the Fourth of July holiday. He said the more cars that are patrolling, the better chance of coming across an impaired driver.
"Don't drink and drive. If you are going to drink, please make arraignments," Burnett said. "Before you leave for a party, know how everyone can get home safely. We aren't telling people not to drink, we are asking them not to drink and get behind the wheel. Please don't take that chance for you, your family, or someone else's family."
Another reason not to drink and drive is the costs that come with a DUI charge. Lyn Ross from Spokane County had to pay $1,200 for the ignition interlock he had to have installed on his truck after being charged with a DUI.
Since January, interlock drivers have to have a record of clean blows for the last four months of the restriction to get the device removed and be eligible for their regular drivers license. The ignition interlock makes it so a driver can't start their car unless they can blow a clean blood alcohol content.
The WTSC Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday Campaign Director, Darrin Grondel, urges everyone to plan ahead.
"Don't let a DUI ruin your holidays. Designate a sober driver, take a taxi, or stay the night," he said.
The Brewster, East Wenatchee and Wenatchee Police Departments, the Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan County Sheriff's Offices and the Washington State Patrol are participating in the Washington State Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
This campaign is part of the Chelan-Douglas counties Target Zero project.
For additional information about the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, visit wtsc.wa.gov.
Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or email@example.com.