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Drunk driving dangers in Seattle

Seattle residents are at risk of being injured by drunk drivers every day. Learn the facts and what you can do.

A quick scan of headlines at KIROTV.com highlights the stark realities of drunk driving in Washington. Two recent stories recount horrible accidents, each that led to the wrongful death of innocent victims at the hands of drunk drivers.

In one crash, a Tacoma couple and their daughters were hit in an intersection by a drunk driver. Despite fleeing the scene, the impaired driver was found and arrested. He awaits charges of DUI, hit and run, vehicular assault and vehicular homicide. The husband was killed in the wreck. His wife and their daughters remain in the hospital and at least two of them have undergone surgeries due to their injuries.

In another serious car accident, a young Microsoft engineer lost his life on State Route 520 when a drunk driver hit his vehicle. The at-fault driver was noted to be moving at a speed exceeding 100 miles per hour. The King County judge presiding over the case put his bail at $100,000.

A look at the statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows that 31 people died in drunk driving accidents in King County in 2012. The following year the county lost another 29 lives in such crashes. Statewide in 2013, 139 out of a total 436 vehicular fatalities were attributed to impaired drivers.

Other data from the Century Council for 2012 reports that 146 people died in Washington State due to the actions of drivers operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. In nearly 70 percent of all fatal drunk driving accidents that year, the blood alcohol level of drivers exceeded 0.14 percent.

Can ignition interlock devices help?

The required use of ignition interlock devices is aimed to prevent repeat drunk driving. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a first-time offense in Washington State can result in the required use of an IID for up to 12 months.

A second-time offense can find drivers required to use ignition interlock devices for five years. A ten-year term is ordered for third or subsequent offenses.

In all cases, the IID can be required for an additional six months if the convicted driver had a minor in the vehicle at the time of the arrest. Additionally, the use of an IID can be mandated within seven years of the conviction.

Caution urged during spring break season

Drunk driving accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. With the spring break season about to begin, additional caution is urged. Victims are encouraged to seek legal help if involved in a crash.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury