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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, top drunken driving arrests over holidays

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)

While much of Spokane celebrated the new year or stayed inside to avoid snow over the past week, a handful of Spokanites earned a trip to jail for driving under the influence.

Forty-one people were booked into the Spokane County Jail between Dec. 24 through Monday on suspicion of DUI, with seven arrests each on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. That’s according to the daily jail roster of recent bookings, which Spokane County publishes online.

Most of the New Year’s Day bookings were in the wee hours of the morning, starting at 3 a.m. and ending at 7:05 a.m.

The Washington State Patrol made 31 of those arrests arrests over the same period, up from 25 last year, said spokesman Trooper Jeff Sevigney.

He called the arrests “31 potential next-of-kin notifications,” referring to the phone calls troopers have to make to family members when someone dies in a car crash.

The holiday glut of drunken driving may not be a huge anomaly, however. A randomly-selected week in March 2017 had 51 jail bookings for driving under the influence, according to a Spokesman-Review analysis of past jail rosters.

Whether more people choose to drive under the influence during the holidays varies from year to year, Sevigney said.

“You never know. It depends on the weather,” he said.

Troopers also conduct extra patrols around holidays, so people who are driving under the influence are more likely to get stopped.

“Sometimes we just get luckier some years than others,” he said.

Overall, 418 people were arrested during the holiday week.

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