State Patrol warns of the dangers of impaired New Year’s driving

Washington State Patrol Sergeant Darren Wright recently penned a letter to drivers warning them of the costs of driving while impaired.

The letter, titled “A New Year but an Old Truth,” warns drivers that WSP Troopers will be looking out for impaired drivers this week in preparation for New Year’s festivities.

Not only will regular patrols be increased to include additional Troopers but WSP has partnered with five other states to form the Western States Traffic Safety Coalition. Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona are working together to save lives by working to remove impaired drivers from the roadways during this holiday season.

These extra patrols will include specially trained troopers to help identify not just alcohol but drug-impaired drivers.

While most WSP troopers receive additional training in drug-impaired driver detection, this training, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), is specifically focused on detecting drivers impaired by drugs. Troopers will also be assisted by troopers trained as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) in identifying and detecting drug-impaired drivers.

DRE’s receive training to identify what drugs a driver may be impaired by.

“You can’t drive safely if you’re impaired. That’s why it’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, or any potentially impairing drug–prescribed or over the counter,” Wright said in the letter.

Wright also noted that there are many misconceptions about marijuana use and driving, including “stories” that marijuana can’t impair you or that marijuana use can actually make you a safer driver. Several scientific studies have proven that these assertions are false. Driving while impaired by any substance — legal or illegal — puts the driver and others in harm’s way.

“New Year’s Eve may feel like the ultimate party night, but police will be alert throughout the region for alcohol and/or drug-impaired drivers. Many people choose to start the New Year with a New Year’s Resolution. Let your first resolution for the New Year be to NOT drive impaired and to make sure that you and your loved ones get home safely,” Wright said.

The Western States Traffic Safety Coalition is committed and unified to keeping communities safe during this end of the holiday season and is working hard to raise awareness among the driving public that driving impaired by drugs or alcohol is dangerous and illegal in every state.

The coalition wants everyone to ring in the New Year safely with their friends and family and has set a goal of zero deaths from impaired driving on the New Year’s holiday.