Tag Archives: DUI

Reporting litterers and aggressive drivers

The in basket: Tracy Kendall and a fellow named Ben have asked where to call to report driver misbehavior of different kinds.

Tracy said, “I had a frustrating situation a few weeks back and have stewed about it since. I was driving along Sedgwick Road going east over SR16 when a driver in the car in front of me dropped her burning cigarette out her window.

“This was when we were on high burn ban alert and hadn’t had rain in more than 40 days!” She had her daughter write down the license plate number and vehicle description and called 911 to report the dangerous act.

“The CenCom dispatcher told me she wouldn’t take the information and that I was to report it to the Health Department!!” Tracy said.

“I told her that at one time I knew of a number that was something like 800LITTERS and that reporting to them resulted in a letter to the registered owner scolding them and warning of the dangers and legal ramifications.”

She tried that number and had no more success reporting what she had seen, she said.

“Is it really okay to throw out burning cigarettes from vehicles now? What if a fire did result? I was the only one with the responsible party’s information. FRUSTRATED!!!!!”

Ben asked, “How can I report an unsafe driver?  I have seen the same compact pickup travel at a high rate of speed (about 75 mph) on the shoulder lanes between Port Orchard and Gorst both mornings and evenings.  I have the tag number but not sure how to report it.”

The out basket: 9-1-1 is the proper place to call in either case, though Tracy got bad info from the call taker when she tried.

Maria Jameson-Owens, second in command at CenCom told me, “Our process is for call takers to enter details for all in-progress littering complaints. These should then be dispatched to local law enforcement. Callers should be offered the phone number for the Health Department when suspect information is available. Depending on the location of the event we sometimes transfer the caller to WSP for handling.

“If we were the agency to handle this event, it does not appear that we handled it per our policy. We will research internally.”

Handling littering complaints is one of the government functions that has take a beating from the financial shortfalls in state and local government. The State Department of Transportations phone number for them is no longer active.

Jan Brower of the Health District’s solid waste division says they will investigate complaints where there is some likelihood of identifying the dumper through information in what was dumped, but thrown out pop cans and cigarettes are the province of law enforcement.

Trooper Mark Hodgson of the WSP office here says there isn’t much likelihood of immediate contact with litterers or even aggressive drivers from such citizen reports. But they want to get the report so they can be on the lookout for the driver or the patrol the location, as with what Ben has seen. An officer may witness the offense being repeated.

Had there been a fire where Tracy saw the cigarette being thrown out, the report could have helped pinpoint blame.

Robert Calkins of the WSP in Olympia said they used to have a date base of aggressive driving complaints, but it’s no longer active.

He said citizens often report suspected drunken drivers, which do result in a response. In only 3 percent of the reports they receive do they find the driver still on the road, but about half of those they do find are, in fact, impaired, Robert said.

Deputy Scott Wilson of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office says calls to 9-1-1 about offenses on county roads are referred to them, and those on state highways are referred by CenCom to WSP dispatchers.


Smile, if you can, you’re on ignition interlock

The in basket: Back on Dec. 31, I was included in the routing of a State Patrol news release that began thusly:

“Alcohol ignition interlocks in Washington will soon have a feature designed to prevent others from performing breath tests for the driver. Starting Jan. 1, a camera will snap a picture every time the machine is used, verifying that the driver is the person who took the test.

“Interlocks are required on the vehicles of those who’ve been accused or convicted of impaired driving. The machine requires a legal breath sample from the driver before allowing a car to start.”

It seemed like a smart idea, but I was skeptical of the second paragraph. I doubted that use of the interlocks was that widely required, and certainly not routinely of people who hadn’t been convicted.

I asked State Trooper Russ Winger if that paragraph was correct.

The out basket: Russ said that Claire Bradley in the Kitsap County prosecutor’s office would be a better person to ask about the nuts and bolts, but took a stab at an answer.

“They can be ordered by the court for any DUI conviction or deferred prosecution case,” he said. “I think they are being ordered more frequently on first offenders in Kitsap  County – if not all now.

“Any DUI with a BA (blood alcohol reading) of .15 or higher is usually automatic for at least one year. Second and third offenses increase the time that the interlock may be required – up to two or three years – as well as increasing fines and the probationary period,” he said.

As he suggested, I next went to Claire  Bradley, chief deputy prosecutor for Kitsap, who told me that on cases with an accusation but no conviction with the case pending, “the court has discretion to impose (an interlock) on any case. General guidelines are that if have there are any alcohol-related driving convictions in the past, a BAC (breathalyzer reading) above .15 or a refusal of BAC, the court will order installation of an IID as a condition of release. The court can certainly order on any case not involving these facts, but generally these are the cases they will order on.”

“There is a license suspension on any conviction for a DUI,” she said. “So, once convicted, the court tells the defendant their license will be suspended (if not already suspended).

The court also advises the defendant that they are required to apply for an ignition interlock license with the Department of Licensing. So, they are required to go to the DOL, follow DOL’s suspension rules and if qualified, they can get an Ignition Interlock License for the period of their suspension.

“Suspension periods range from 90 days (on first time DUI, under .15 BAC) to four years and beyond (multiple priors and over .15 or refusal).”

Auto Safe in Silverdale does a lot of the installations here, and David Ray of their office said there is a monthly fee to have an interlock, and the camera requirement added $20 to that.

It now starts with $97.61 to have the device, plus $7 monthly to insure it, plus $10 every 60 days to WSP,  plus $20 every month to support a DOL program that helps pay the costs of an interlock device for anyone who meets a threshold as an indigent. There’s also a $95 installation fee the company waives if the device is kept for over a year, he said.

Did county jump the gun on memorial sign?


The in basket: Keri Canda feels Kitsap County heightened the abuse inflicted on family members of a man convicted last month of vehicular homicide for causing the death of a woman in January 2008, when it allowed a pair of memorial signs to be put up at the Central Kitsap accident site last year, before the man was even charged.

The county should have waited until there was a conviction before posting the sign, which said “In Loving Memory, Don’t Drink and Drive,” Keri felt. Because of the implication the sign presented to the community, “I have seen a family I care dearly about persecuted by newspapers, school teachers, parents, church members, MADD, gas station clerks… the list goes on,” she said.

“Those signs should not be allowed until the proof has been presented,” she said, “and a conviction has been given by a jury of peers. The family has a right to honor their loved one, but not at the expense of another family with small innocent children who drive past those signs everyday.”

The state requires a court conviction and a tox screen before they’ll allow such a sign to go up on one of its highways, she said. Why doesn’t the county wait?

The out basket: I told Keri that abuse of family members for the crimes of one member is regrettable and cruel. But I expect that media stories that named the offending driver were much more likely than the signs, which didn’t, to have set off such recriminations.

Further, the man now has been charged, convicted and sent to prison last month, so whatever role the signs played in community reaction, it would be happening now, not last year.

But I asked the county why it doesn’t wait for conviction before OK-ing such a sign.

The out basket: Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer, replies, “Our Memorial Sign program is a bit different than the (state) program. Theirs is called the ‘DUI Memorial Sign Program.’  It’s focus is  ‘a grass roots program, borne from an idea of people who had lost family members in collisions caused by drunk driving. The Department of Transportation has embraced the program as a way to join together with citizens of this state in the ongoing efforts to combat Driving Under the Influence.’ 

“Our program,” he said, “is outlined in our roadside memorial policy. Our focus is ‘to facilitate the grieving process for those family members who have lost a loved one in an automobile-related accident.’ 

The state’s only sign legend is “Don’t Drink and Drive,” Jeff said. “The county’s program includes that, but also includes ‘Please Drive Safely,’ ‘Seat Belts Save Lives,’ and ‘Please Watch for Pedestrians or Bicyclists.’  The requester can post any one of these messages, without regard to the type of accident that happens. 

“The signs do not imply and are not intended to indicate a crime,” he said,”rather are intended to make motorists aware of the consequences of unsafe driving. Under the county’s program, a sign can be installed for the motorist at fault if they are a fatality, and not just for the victim.”


Drunken driving and the 0.08 limit



The in basket: Gary Moore of Central Kitsap knows someone facing a drunken driving charge even though the person blew a 0.05 on the breathalyzer test after being stopped by an officer.

There was no infraction or accident involved, he said. Another officer felt the person had driven across the edge line and radioed ahead for another officer to stop the person.

State law says 0.08 blood alcohol is the lower limit for a DUI,  he said, adding. “They can’t have it both ways.”

The out basket: Well, actually, they can.

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