Holiday revelers urged to drive sober

Police will be on lookout for intoxicated drivers; travelers should prepare

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

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Police across the state will be out looking for DUI drivers starting Wednesday as part of the annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" holiday campaign.

Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director Darrin Grondel says folks should plan ahead.

"Don't let a DUI ruin your holidays," he said in a news release. "Before you leave home for a holiday party, think about how everyone can get home safely. Designate a sober driver, take a taxi, stay the night."

Washington State Patrol will have extra patrols on local roads through New Year's Day as part of the campaign.

"We're all hands on deck for all major holiday weekends," including Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Trooper Will Finn, local WSP spokesman.

Drivers should also be prepared for busy roads and take extra precautions when driving this week, he said.

WSP recommends people drive at a reasonable speed for road conditions and plan for extra travel time to get to destinations, Finn said. Inspecting wiper blades, tires and fluid levels is also recommended.

Finn said people should stock vehicles with such supplies as water, blankets, gloves and medication, especially if they're traveling long distances or going over mountain passes.

"It doesn't hurt to be prepared," he said.

The Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency also recommends people prepare emergency car kits for winter.

Travelers should also pack a warm change of winter clothes, a small shovel, a device for signalling for help, basic tools, items to help them stay warm, food and water.

Road conditions are available on the WSDOT website or by calling 1-800-368-4499. Tips for safe winter driving tips and videos are also available on the Washington State Patrol website.

Paul Suarez: 360-735-4522; http://www.twitter.com/col_cops;paul.suarez@columbian.com.