Every year there are events (Superbowl), Holidays (Christmas and New Year's), and special occasion activities (St. Patrick’s, 5th of May, Halloween, etc.), where State and Local Law Enforcement agencies coordinate and send out DUI emphasis patrols. As St. Patrick's Day — the first special occasion post-New Year's — is upon us, local law enforcement agencies are once again taking part in increased patrols to seek out drunk drivers starting March 8 and ending just after St. Patrick’s Day.
Starting March 8, Bellingham, Ferndale, and Lynden police departments, in addition to Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputies and Washington State Patrol, will commit extra patrols countywide. This start date was chosen in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, 2012. These measures are part of a campaign called "target zero" where the goal of the program is to reduce traffic fatalities related to driving under the influence (DUI) charges to zero by 2030. While this is a worthy goal from a traffic safety perspective, the collateral effects can be detrimental to the average law abiding driver. This is because, inevitably, this "emphasis," this "wide net" will not only discover drivers who are found to be over the legal limit, but it will also snare some drivers who are actually under the limit.
As a result, those driver’s who are legally having a drink and then driving, legally under the limit, and therefore not impaired, will be arrested and will be prosecuted. When this emphasis is over the local and state breath testing machine databases will show proof positive that drivers under the limit were arrested and await prosecutor. Stay tuned for the post-emphasis blog.