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Gov. Gregoire announces proposal to take drunk drivers off the road

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2008

OLYMPIA – Gov. Gregoire today announced she will introduce legislation authorizing law enforcement in Washington state to conduct sobriety checkpoints to fight against drunk driving.

“Sobriety checkpoints will be an important tool for law enforcement to catch drunk drivers and will help keep families safer when they are on the road,” said Governor Chris Gregoire. “Let’s hope these checkpoints will keep would-be drunk drivers from even getting behind the wheel and take those who make the bad decision to drink and drive off the road.”

“I am a witness to the painfully permanent impact that drinking and driving can have on our families,” said Lisa McCollum. “Stronger laws, such as the one proposed by Governor Gregoire will make our roads and highways safer for Washington families.” Almost five years ago McCollum’s mother-in-law, Jenny, was killed by a teenager who crashed into her van after drinking at a party.

“We need to protect families, like the McCollum’s, from irresponsible drivers by getting those who are impaired off the road,” said the governor.

“If approved, this legislation will save lives by letting law enforcement operate sobriety checkpoints in the areas most likely to have impaired drivers,” said State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “We will go where the impaired drivers go, with the goal of getting them off the road.”

The proposed legislation would require law enforcement to apply for a warrant to conduct an administrative sobriety checkpoint in their county. The application would have stringent guidelines including information like geographic locations and checkpoint specifics. It will also include statistical information showing that there have been some statistically significant alcohol or drug involved collisions within a one mile radius of the proposed location.

Within twenty days after the checkpoint program is completed, the warrant must be returned containing information on what hours the checkpoint was actually operable, the number of vehicles stopped, and, to the extent such information is available, the number of drivers investigated and arrested for DUI violations.

“Currently Washington is only one of 11 states that does not use sobriety checkpoints to catch drunk drivers,” said Representative Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor), sponsor of the bill in the House. “Law enforcement needs every tool available to prevent the tragedies these offenders cause.”

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