BELLEVUE, Wash. – Labor Day is the deadliest weekend on Washington roadways reports Washington State Patrol. The holiday has troopers on high alert, looking for impaired and distracted drivers to keep roads safe.
“How much have you had to drink today,” asked Trooper James Maguire to a driver he pulled over. Trooper Maguire is working the holiday weekend, on the lookout for all kinds of bad driving.
“It’s been busy,” he said.
Maguire is manning one of the extra patrols State Patrol has had in place since August 19th. “Everything from seatbelts to speeding, all the things that cause crashes and of course DUI patrols,” he said.
Last year there were 146 DUI arrests made on Labor Day weekend in Washington State including 38 fatal or serious injury crashes. In 2014, there were 21 crashes.
“It’s shocking and it’s all hours of the day,” said Maguire. “I had a DUI arrest yesterday at 2 o’clock on a Friday.” Maguire said the man was twice the legal limit in the middle of the afternoon. He was found, not by a trooper, but a concerned citizen who witnessed the man’s erratic driving.
“If that person hadn’t have called in, I never would’ve found him, never would’ve known to look in the area I was looking,” said Maguire. “I can’t tell you how many DUI’s I’ve arrested from concerned citizens saying ‘hey, this person is weaving all over the road.’”
It’s not just alcohol either said Maguire, noting an uptick in marijuana impaired drivers he’s pulling over. In 2015, Washington Traffic Safety Commission reports 251 impaired drivers were involved in deadly crashes. Of those, 60% tested positive for multiple drugs, or drugs mixed with alcohol.
“When someone has a little bit of marijuana, a little bit of beer, doesn’t matter how much, it really amplifies the impairment factor,” said Maguire. “If you’re going to do that, it’s fine, just please don’t drive. That’s all we’re asking.”
The extra patrols stop Monday, September 5th.