Special Peninsula patrols seeking drivers under influence

Peninsula Daily News

North Olympic Peninsula law enforcement is looking for those impaired by alcohol or drugs in a special patrol through Sept. 1.

Even though state voters legalized recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in November 2012, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana as well as alcohol.

“Specifically, we want people to know that marijuana doubles the risk of a fatal crash,” said Darrin Grondel, state Traffic Safety Commission director.

“With new retail marijuana stores in the mix, we want to remind the public that prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as illegal and recreational drugs, can impair driving ability,” he added.

The Port Angeles, Port Townsend and Sequim police departments; the Clallam and Jefferson County sheriff’s offices; and the State Patrol are participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

The campaign is supported by the Clallam County DUI Target Zero Task Force and the Jefferson County Traffic Safety Task Force.

Many of the officers have special training to identify when a driver is under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol.

“More people may be using marijuana recreationally, but that should never be mixed with driving,” said Lt. Rob Sharpe, commander of the State Patrol Impaired Driving Section.

Sharpe noted that law enforcement has been arresting drugged drivers for a long time and will continue to identify and arrest drivers who drive under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or other drugs.

Impairment laws

An adult is considered impaired by liquor with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.

The threshold is less for commercial vehicle drivers: 0.04 percent.

Also considered impaired is a driver who, within two hours after driving, has a THC concentration of 5 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood.

Impairment laws are much stricter for anyone younger than 21.

The threshold for the blood alcohol level is 0.02 percent for minors. Minors cannot have any marijuana in their systems.

During 2013 in Clallam and Jefferson counties, 373 people were charged with driving under the influence, according to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Extra patrols are part of Target Zero, a statewide effort to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

For more information, visit www.targetzero.com.

For more on the state Traffic Safety Commission, visit www.wtsc.wa.gov.

Last modified: August 23. 2014 5:22PM
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