OLYMPIA – State, local and county law enforcement agencies will deploy emphasis patrols for impaired drivers running August 20 through Labor Day weekend across Washington. The patrols occur as impaired driving-related deaths and serious injuries have increased over the past year despite fewer people driving due to COVID restrictions.
“Everyone can do something to prevent impaired driving,” said Doug Dahl, Target Zero Manager Communications Lead for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. “If you drink or use cannabis or other drugs, choose from many available alternatives rather than drive. If you see a friend or family member about to drive impaired, intervene. You can be the difference that prevents a crash and saves a life.”
Officer Brinkman recalls the crash that motivated him to become more involved in DUI enforcement, in a video he made last December as part of Washington’s holiday DUI patrols.
In 2020, impaired driving involved fatalities increased 12.4% and serious injuries increased 32.4% over 2019, even though vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) was 15% lower. Serious injuries from impaired driver involved crashes were up 8.6% through June of 2021 compared with the same time period in 2020. Intoxication from more than one substance (usually alcohol and cannabis) is found in most impaired drivers.
“The good news is that most Washingtonians don’t drink and drive, and most will step in to stop someone from driving after drinking or using drugs,” said Dahl. “The extra patrols are a reminder to always drive sober.”
Law enforcement is dedicating this August’s DUI patrols to a Washingtonian who saved many lives, Lynnwood Police Officer Mark Brinkman. Officer Brinkman was a nationally known leader in DUI enforcement. He passed away in April.
“Officer Brinkman dedicated himself to saving lives by getting impaired drivers off the road,” said Dahl. As a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and DRE instructor, Brinkman trained officers across Washington in recognizing impairment in drivers from substances in addition to alcohol. He was highly regarded, both for the high number of DUI arrests he made each year and for genuinely caring about people.
“Officer Brinkman set the example of preventing impaired driving, through his performance as a police officer and with the compassion he showed as a human being,” said Dahl. “Law enforcement across the state honors his legacy, and each of us can echo his commitment to saving lives. These crashes are preventable and finding a sober way home is easy. It’s as simple as offering a ride, offering your couch for the night, or calling a rideshare or taxi.”