Nearly 200 arrested for DUI during holiday period

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Nearly 200 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in Clark County between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Area law enforcement took 194 impaired drivers off the roads between Nov. 21 and Jan. 1, as part of a statewide initiative to reduce risk of fatalities and serious injury. Across Washington, authorities arrested 3,446 impaired drivers.

Those numbers are less than those recorded during the same period in 2011, when there were 246 DUI arrests in Clark County and 3,812 statewide.

“Even though it’s less, it’s a significant number of people that are driving impaired,” said Marion Swendsen, who coordinates the Clark County Target Zero Traffic Safety program.

“It’s not just alcohol impairment. We’re seeing a huge increase in other impairment,” she said.

Mostly, Swendsen said, that impairment is from marijuana.

The increased patrol is funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission as part of the Washington's Strategic Highway Safety Plan to reduce traffic fatalities to zero by the year 2030.

In 2011, Clark County saw 120 serious injury crashes and 16 fatal crashes, of which 11 involved impaired drivers.