Editor’s note: Lynnwood Today editor Mike Murphy was given the opportunity to ride along with Lynnwood police officers as they looked for drunk drivers. A video of this arrest will be posted shortly.
It’s late on Friday night, the start of a long holiday weekend, and Lynnwood police officer Chris Breault is on the hunt for drunk drivers.
Lynnwood is one of several police agencies around the state participating in holiday DUI emphasis patrols funded by a federal grant. The “Target Zero” patrols are part of the state’s plan to reduce highway DUI deaths to zero by 2030.
Officer Breault is the man for the job. He’s one of only about 200 drug recognition experts statewide. He can spot the small signs that a driver is under the influence of drugs. Earlier this year the Snohomish County DUI Task Force honored Officer Breault as a “leader in law enforcement.”
Officer Breault pulls over a suspected drunk driver near 7-11 on Highway 99 at 188th Street SW. The car made sudden lane changes and appeared to be lost – both signs of a possible drunk driver. She also had a brake light out. When Officer Breault contacted the 31-year-old female driver, he could already tell she might be impaired. He said her speech was slurred, her eyes were bloodshot and he smelled a strong odor of intoxicants.
After giving the woman a series of field sobriety tests, his suspicions were confirmed. She blew a .094, just over the legal limit of .08. She also admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the evening, which only added to her impairment. A stash of pot and an improvised pipe made of foil were found in her purse.
Offcer Breault arrested her for driving under the influence, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She started to cry as she was handcuffed. On the ride back to the station, she didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation.
“Am I going to jail?” she asks. “I’ve never been in trouble before.”
Back at the Lynnwood Municipal Jail, the woman is fingerprinted, gets her mugshot taken and changes into jail garb. If she can’t find a sober driver to bail her out, she’ll be locked up until Monday, when she makes her first court appearance.
Drunk and drugged driving kills 250 people each year in Washington, according to the Washington State Traffic Safety Coalition. A DUI arrest could lead to a license suspension, jail time and $5,000 in fines and fees.