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Monday, October 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Plan ahead to avoid driving drunk on New Year’s Eve

A Washington State Patrol trooper checks the license of a driver suspected of driving under the influence. The legalization of marijuana has led to an uptick in blood tests for drivers suspected of using drugs and then driving. (Rajah Bose / Spokesman-Review file photo)
A Washington State Patrol trooper checks the license of a driver suspected of driving under the influence. The legalization of marijuana has led to an uptick in blood tests for drivers suspected of using drugs and then driving. (Rajah Bose / Spokesman-Review file photo)

More than 6,100 car crashes happened in Washington this year because somebody got behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

According to crash data from the Washington state Department of Transportation, more than one-fifth of fatal crashes this year involved alcohol. In Spokane County, seven people died and more than 100 were injured in alcohol-related crashes.

To deter people from drinking and driving on New Year’s Eve, the Washington State Patrol will have extra troopers on the road.

WSP spokesman Trooper Randy Elkins said having a plan in place before you start drinking is important.

“If you’re going to be drinking, don’t drive,” he said. “There’s lots of options: Uber, friends, taxis.”

The Idaho Transportation Department, Idaho State Police and 50 local law-enforcement agencies have teamed up to prevent impaired driving through Jan. 3.

Drivers ages 21 to 23 are involved in almost three times as many impaired-driving crashes as all other drivers, Idaho officials said. In 2015, the state saw 87 impaired-driving fatalities and 219 serious-injury crashes from impaired driving.

“We want to keep our roads safe this holiday season and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober,” said John Tomlinson, ITD’s Office of Highway Safety manager. “Alcohol affects people differently, and you don’t have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive.”

People planning to use Uber or Lyft can save money by traveling during nonpeak times. Both companies use surge pricing to increase fares during peak demand as an incentive to get drivers out on the road.

Uber displays fares upfront so passengers won’t be surprised by a hefty bill later, the company said in an email. Lyft users must agree to a “Prime Time” percentage price increase before booking a ride.

Lyft is also offering new passengers a $5 discount on their first 10 rides using the code LYFTNEWYEAR17.

Peak demand times for both companies are typically from 8-11 p.m. and midnight to 3 a.m. Passengers can save money by heading to a party early and leaving before the midnight countdown or planning to stay until midmorning.

If you’d like to follow along as police track down people who didn’t make good choices on New Year’s Eve, the Spokane Police Department will host a virtual New Year’s Eve ride-along with Officer Jake Jensen and police K-9 Cruz.

The pair will be posting regular updates from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the Spokane Police Department K-9 Unit Facebook page and on Twitter at @SpokanePDK9.

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