St. Patrick’s Day is falling on the weekend this year, and that means a lot of partying and a lot of drinking. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most busy times for police patrolling for drunk or impaired drivers. In fact, they’re already preparing in many parts of the state and rest of the country.
For example, police in Long Beach are already preparing to increase patrols from 8pm to early dawn the next morning on St. Patrick’s Day. Not only are they planning on conducting these saturation patrols and checkpoints, Long Beach Police are not hesitating to advertise their St. Patrick’s Day efforts well ahead of time. It’s been shown that the number of drunk driving involved crashes decreases by an average of about 20% when regularly conducted enforcement operations are publicly announced. This makes checkpoints and saturation patrols among the best tried and true law enforcement strategies to combat drunk and impaired driving.
Over in Washington state, a new bill was just recently passed – House Bill 2443 – which is hoped to deter impaired DUI offenders. Part of the bill allows the installation of cameras on ignition-interlock devices to keep offenders from trying to bypass the system by getting someone else to start the car. Ignition-interlock devices are installed in vehicles of previously convicted DUI offenders which require an instant clean breathalyzer test in order to start the ignition. In addition, the bill authorizes police officers to administer breath or blood tests without the suspect’s consent. It also expands the state DUI laws to include huffing – inhaling vapors to get high – as one of the substances which can impair driving, as well as the authority to test for the use of such substances. And the bill was passed just in time; mere weeks before St. Patrick’s Day.