Experts to enforce DUI emphasis patrols

Between Friday, Aug. 14, Monday, and Sept. 7, extra DUI patrols will traverse Clallam County roadways in search of impaired drivers.

Participating in this summer's Drive Hammered, Get Nailed enforcement campaign are the Port Angeles and Sequim police departments, the Clallam County Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Patrol, with the support of the Clallam County DUI/Traffic Safety Task Force.

Numerous myths surround impaired driving (see story above), chief of which is one must have consumed alcohol to be arrested for DUI.

Drivers can become impaired by the use of illegal, prescription and even over-the-counter drugs (or some combination of these) with or without the presence of alcohol.

Today a statewide network of specially trained law enforcement officers can identify drivers who are under the influence of illegal, prescription and/or over-the-counter drugs.

They are called drug recognition experts. They are trained extensively about the differing effects of drugs and/or alcohol on the body.

DRE Deputy Mike Backes of the Clallam County Sheriff's Office knows by looking at a driver's eyes and face whether or not he needs to further investigate their state of sobriety.

He once stopped an erratically driven vehicle with several passengers, all of whom had been drinking alcohol.

They were pleased they had a designated driver who had not been drinking.

However, the smile on the driver's face and other indicators were signs of marijuana use. The passengers were sent walking home while the driver was arrested for DUI.

Myths about DUI

False: You can sober up quickly by drinking coffee, taking a cold shower or consuming an energy drink.

True: Only time will sober you up. It typically takes about one hour for each drink that has been consumed.

False: It's OK to drive impaired if you are going only a short distance.

True: It never is safe to drive under the influence.

False: My doctor wouldn't have prescribed the medicine if it weren't safe to drive while taking it.

True: Prescription medications can impair you. If the bottle indicates that it is not safe to operate heavy machinery, you should not drive after taking that medication.

False: I can't be arrested for DUI if I am under a .08.

True: You can be arrested for DUI if your ability to drive is affected by any substance, regardless of your blood alcohol content.

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