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Auburn, Target Zero team up to blitz DUIs on Super Sunday

The Target Zero Teams in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties will be out in force on Super Bowl Sunday, ready to arrest drivers who’ve been celebrating with too much alcohol.

Nearly three dozen city police officers, county sheriffs’ deputies and state troopers will be deployed in the hours following Super Bowl XLV (45). Auburn is among the participating agencies.

The teams also are asking for your help in keeping others safe.

“Fans don’t let fans drive drunk,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “Baseball has the designated hitter. On Super Bowl Sunday we need designated drivers to make sure their fellow fans get home safely.”

Even if you can’t be a designated driver, you can help by calling 9-1-1 if you see a driver you think is impaired. State law permits drivers to use their cell phones to report emergencies to 911.

“An impaired driver is definitely an emergency,” said Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick. “If you see someone you think is DUI, it’s appropriate to call 9-1-1 and report that.”

Studies by the state patrol have shown that ordinary drivers are very good at spotting impaired drivers. In cases where troopers were able to catch up to reported DUIs, about half were found to be impaired.

Target Zero Teams are structured with a full-time core of state troopers, joined by deputies and officers from local agencies when staffing and funding permit. The teams’ goal is to eliminate drunk driving deaths.

“It’s great to see our officers working side-by-side with deputies and troopers,” said Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo. “We all want the same thing- to save lives.”

New computer mapping techniques allow the teams to be deployed based on objective patterns of data:

• Locations of previous drunk-driving fatalities.

• Locations where citizens have repeatedly reported impaired drivers.

• Prior DUI Arrests.

The Target Zero Teams were activated on July 1, so this will be their first Super Bowl effort. In 2010, the Washington State Patrol arrested 19 impaired drivers in the tri-county area in the post-game hours. That does not include arrests made by allied agencies.

Assisting the teams will be a WSP aircraft equipped with forward looking infra-red (FLIR) technology. Callers who report an impaired driver may be patched through to the pilot, who will then monitor the suspect vehicle until an officer on the ground can catch up.

Target Zero is the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which calls for all traffic deaths to be eliminated by the year 2030. Because about 45 percent of highway fatalities are DUI-related, the Target Zero Teams were established to attack that one source of tragedy.

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