State Patrol: Number of DUI drivers with kids in the car is spiking in W. Wash.
The number of DUI drivers on the road with children riding along in the vehicle is increasing across a wide swath of Western Washington, the State Patrol reports.
State troopers say they are seeing the spike in arrests of impaired drivers with minor passengers mostly in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.
Over the past 10 years, the region has averaged 30 DUI arrests with minors annually. But this year there already have been 30 arrests - and there are still over four months yet to go in the year. Eleven of the arrests occurred during the month of July.
Trooper Chelsea Hodgson says the most recent arrests came Wednesday night. One was in Shelton, where a DUI driver was busted with a 5-year-old child in the car. The other was near Elma involving a 16-year-old.
In addition to a DUI charge, those caught driving with a minor in the vehicle could face additional charges of reckless endangerment for each minor passenger in the vehicle. The State Patrol also contacts Child Protective Services, no matter what the relation is between driver and minor passenger.
State troopers are now asking for the public's help in finding DUI drivers. Anyone who spots vehicles exhibiting signs of a possible driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs is asked to call 911 so law enforcement can respond. Calls to 911 to report emergencies are exempt under the new cell phone driving laws.
Examples of driving behaviors that could indicate the driver is possibly under the influence include shoulder driving, erratic lane changes, erratic braking, no headlights after dark, inconsistent speeds, excessive speed or impeding traffic.
If you see someone driving in this way, you are advised not to conbtact them but to call 911 and follow the prompts provided by dispatchers. When calling, provide dispatchers with the license plate, make, model and color of the vehicle, as well as your location and any descriptions of the driver.
Those who report a DUI driver may be asked to provide a written statement. Be sure to provide your name, phone number and email to dispatchers so investigating troopers can contact you.