Law enforcement is giving intoxicated Washingtonians another reason to avoid getting behind the wheel this holiday season.
Washington State Patrol troopers on the road won’t be the only ones seeking to arrest impaired drivers — they’ll have help from overhead in what they’re calling the DUI Aerial Response Team.
The state patrol’s fleet of planes will pan out over the state, and, somewhat divergent from their duties catching speeders, they’ll scour the roadways — in daylight and at night-time thanks to one high tech camera — looking for cars winding and weaving where the roadways are straight. They’ll also have local dispatchers tell them where residents have called in to report drunken drivers.
I got a chance earlier this year to take to the skies with the state patrol’s air troopers; to see a video of their plane and how they conduct speed enforcement using them, click here.
Troopers said there were 31 alcohol-related traffic deaths in Washington during the 2007 holiday season; that’s 31 too many according to their “Tie One On” campaign.
Here’s what State Trooper Sergeant Freddy Williams sent me about it:
“The effort is led by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, the Washington State Patrol, and law enforcement officers throughout the state. They’ll be tying red ribbons on their antennas as a reminder to not drink and drive.
This holiday season, WSP has a new way to save lives. Troopers in fixed-wing aircraft will be using Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) cameras to help locate impaired drivers and direct ground troopers to them.
MADD, Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, and the WSP want you to make this season a time of joy and gladness not mourning. The choice is yours.”
And, he adds this point later:
“So far, as can be determined, WSP is the first police agency to use FLIR technology in this way.”