For a lot of people, this is the time of year for celebrating with family and friends, but for law enforcement officers it is a time for increased patrols as they look for drivers who are impaired.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Washington State Patrol troopers began their seasonal focus on impaired drivers.
On average, 28 people a day in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 53 minutes and accounts for almost a third of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. Annually, the cost of alcohol-related crashes is more than $44 billion. The number of deaths in line with the average in Washington, where about 32 percent of traffic-related deaths in 2015 involved alcohol impairment. Another 14 percent of traffic deaths involved drug-impaired drivers. In addition to the legal use of marijuana in Washington, the abuse of prescription narcotics is increasing, which may account for the number of drug-related traffic deaths.
When a law enforcement officer pulls over a driver suspected of drunk driving, meaning their legal blood alcohol concentration is above .08 percent, they can determine the level of intoxication with a breathalyzer test. Refusing the test can be used against the driver in court.
However, for a driver suspected of drug impairment, the law enforcement officer must get a warrant signed by a judge in order to draw blood to be tested for substances. It is the only way to determine the level of a drug in a driver's body. For example, the legal level of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects, is five nanograms. Even though that is the legal limit, an attorney experienced in impaired driving cases can mount a defense against conviction based on the blood test results alone which can be inconclusive.
Of course, that will not stop state troopers from making arrests. Over the Fourth of July weekend, they arrested 211 drivers suspected of being under the influence. And in Clark County alone, troopers have investigated at least 25 fatal collisions so far this year that involved impaired drivers. Just after Thanksgiving, the Washington State Patrol announced multi-agency saturation patrol that will continue through the holidays.
While the best defense is to refrain from driving when impaired, everyone has lapses in judgment. If you have been arrested and face charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you deserve a quality defense. In Seattle, call the law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.