9/14/2014

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Efficiency increased with WSP's Impaired Driving Unit

Efficiency increased with WSP's Impaired Driving Unit
Washington State Patrol's Impaired Driving Unit is in Vancouver this weekend.
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VANCOUVER, Wash. - The annual crackdown on impaired drivers was in full swing Friday night, but this year's different now with marijuana legal in Washington.

People suspected of driving drunk were brought to the Washington State Patrol's mobile command center that was parked in Vancouver to take a Breathalyzer test. But those suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs were taken to the hospital for a blood test to determine the presence of drugs or THC.

One man suspected of drunken driving was brought to WSP's Impaired Driving Unit by a Clark County sheriff’s deputy. The man refused to blow into one of the three Breathalyzers inside the state’s only mobile command post designated solely to DUI stings.

It's in Vancouver this weekend as city, county and state sobriety patrols look for drivers leaving local bars and holiday parties under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

"The officers out there will make the arrest. They'll bring the suspect in, and they drop them off to us," said Washington State Patrol Sgt. Mark Crandall.

That lets the dozen or so DUI-only patrol cars on the streets to go right back out and look for more drivers under the influence.

Inside the IDU, WSP specialists use those Breathalyzers to test drivers for blood-alcohol content.

Even though pulling over drivers who smoked up is nothing new, sobriety patrols wonder what it will be like now that anyone over 21 can smoke pot legally in Washington.

"We really don't know," Crandall said. "We don't know what communities are going to do to absorb the use of the drug. We don't know what the feds are going to do. We just don't know."

The DUI specialists may also find themselves asking new questions of suspect drivers, not just "How much have you had to drink tonight?"

"Now you might hear one more: 'What have you had to smoke?'" Crandall said.

And those warnings of "Call a cab if you have been drinking" may also have to share the road with "Take a taxi if you've toked."

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