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Holiday DUI crackdown nets 145 arrests in Tri-Cities

Officers took 145 drunken drivers off Tri-City roads during a special holiday season DUI enforcement campaign.

Numbers released Wednesday for the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed emphasis patrols show 102 drivers were arrested for suspected DUI in Benton County and 43 in Franklin County. Statewide, 3,577 impaired drivers were stopped and arrested.

The statewide campaign, sponsored by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, ran from Thanksgiving to Jan. 2. In the Tri-Cities, officers from Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, West Richland and Prosser police departments, and Benton County and Franklin County sheriff’s offices, participated.

Washington State Patrol Lt. Roger Wilbur said there were no DUI-related traffic fatalities on Tri-City roads during the enforcement campaign. The last fatal crash was the Nov. 28 wrong-way collision on Interstate 82 that killed three people.

Investigators still are waiting on toxicology test results on the wrong-way driver, but there was no indication that alcohol or drugs were involved, officials have said.

Troopers did see an increase in DUI arrests during the New Year’s weekend when compared with past years, but only investigated one DUI-related collision, which resulted in no injuries, Wilbur said.

“That was the good news,” he said. “Even though we saw an increase in DUI arrests, we were happy … that we didn’t have more DUI-related collisions. Hopefully we’re taking them off before they’re crashing their cars … and being removed before they’re able to hurt someone.”

Troopers made 12 DUI arrests from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2, which was more than double the number made during the New Year’s holiday in 2009 (four) and 2008 (five).

“It’s a little disappointing that more people didn’t make some prior arrangements before heading out,” Wilbur said. “Twelve (arrests) … show us they are still out there, and we still have some work to do.”

Police jailed 27 Tri-City drivers suspected of being impaired during the New Year’s weekend, according to jail booking logs.

While troopers stayed busy with drunken drivers, Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin said he saw New Year’s partiers making good choices.

“More people were taking advantage, finding other ways home,” Lattin said. “On New Year’s Eve and Jan. 1, there were more cabs than I have ever seen in the downtown parkade — cabs and limos.”

Lattin said he made 20 traffic stops in six hours of extra enforcement on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and didn’t have a DUI driver until his 19th stop.

“Everybody I stopped had drunk people in the car … but a lot of people were using designated drivers,” he said.

— Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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