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Drunk driving campaign hits home
Published 10/4/2012 6:00:00 AM
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Local law enforcement has upped the ante in order to reach the goal of zero impaired-driver fatalities.

Drive Hammered, Get Nailed is a campaign under a bigger, state-wide project called Target Zero. Both campaigns enforce extra Driving Under the Influence patrols to help prevent impaired fatalities and serious injuries.

Pullman Chief of Police Gary Jenkins said the state noticed many deaths and injuries related to drivers under the influence.

“There's a recognition by the state that any impaired driving-related fatality is too many,” he said.

In order to enforce such a campaign, Jenkins said several police departments will work together at peak times of the year. City and campus police officers will partner up with members from Washington State Patrol, Colfax police and the Whitman County sheriff.

“August was identified as one of the highest months of impaired-driver fatalities in the state for the last four years,” Jenkins said. “We'll also target the holiday period in December, we'll also target St. Patrick's Day time in March. We're hoping that by targeting these times where there is typically peak DUI violations, we'll have an impact.”

Matt Kuhrt, police corporal for the WSU Police Department, said law enforcement wants people to know about their enforced patrols. The Traffic Safety Commission wants a minimum of three vehicles patrolling a certain area at one time, he said.

“You want the education going out there saying'look, if you're going to decide to drive drunk this weekend, you're going to get caught,'” Kuhrt said. “We're not trying to hide around a corner and catch people. We're letting people know that we're doing these patrols.”

Kuhrt also said he usually explains to people who drive under the influence that they are one corner away from making a terrible mistake.

“Everybody says 'nothing happened,’” he said. “You were just one stop sign from hitting somebody, so really, in my opinion, it's one of the only preventable murders. I try to explain it to officers that way: you're actually preventing a murder from happening by arresting a DUI. You don't know when it'll happen or where it'll happen, but it's going to happen.”

Bernadette Buchanan, the director of Student Standards and Accountability, said college students never think they will get caught drinking and driving.

“On a college campus, we're dealing with a lot of people who don't think that it will happen to them,” she said. “Doing a campaign like this will help them know that it can happen.”

Student Standards and Accountability work with campus police in order to help students who get charged with a DUI off-campus.

“Our jurisdiction says from the time of application to the granting of the degree, you're a student here and whatever you do, we want you to be a good citizen and make good decisions,” Buchanan said. “That's why we care.”

She said students who get a DUI for the first time usually participate in alcohol information school or do community service, reflecting on what they have learned from driving under the influence.

“It can happen,"Buchanan said."If it does happen, just know that your car is getting towed and you're going to jail. A cab is eight bucks. Eight dollars compared to a car towed, the ticket, a night in jail and that's just the criminal stuff. I'd rather pay eight bucks. DUIs are 100 percent preventable.”

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