DUI Arrests Down; Drunk Drivers Still On the Road

DUI Arrests Down; Drunk Drivers Still On the Road »Play Video
TRI-CITIES -- In the last two years, the number of DUI arrests has been cut by hundreds of cases.

You never know when it'll be somebody you love. The images of DUI are always the same: mangled cars, ruined lives, and family members left to cope with the wreckage left behind.

"It's a healing thing. It's a long thing. You don't want to forget your kids," says Bill Kater.

Kater lost his son to DUI twenty years ago. So many years later, his pain hasn't gone away. The most tragic part of this whole story is that other people will end up in his shoes.

KEPR discovered DUI arrests are down 20% in the Tri Cities area. It sounds good when you first hear it, but dig deeper and you'll come across a sobering reality: it's not that fewer people are drinking and driving, it's that there are fewer troopers available to catch them.

"There's only a couple of us on the road at night, so there's still people drinking and making bad choices," says Trooper Doug Lux.

The state's money problems have caused trooper positions to be cut across Washington. The result? Troopers are often alone in patrolling long stretches of highways looking for people who have had too much to drink.

"We're still picking up the people that need to be arrested, but there's also people that get home," Trooper Lux tells KEPR.

Nearly half of all fatal accidents in the Tri-Cities area have been caused by DUIs. Troopers say they're doing the best job they can. But when you combine budget cuts with a frightening threat, it's just another dangerous cocktail.

Luckily the number of deaths from drunk drivers has dropped slightly over the last few years.