With the kick-off to the holiday season Thursday, law enforcement officers across the state are launching their impaired driving holiday emphasis patrols.
The Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign begins on Thanksgiving and runs through Jan. 2.
In the Tri-Cities, officers from Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, West Richland and Prosser police departments and Benton County and Franklin County sheriff's officers will be operating extra patrols to keep DUI drivers off the streets.
"Our reminder to people is to be smart, don't go out and consume adult beverages unless you have a plan to get home," said Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin. "A designated driver is not the person who drank the least."
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Impaired driving still is the most frequent contributing factor in deadly collisions in the state, said Lowell Porter, director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
"During this time of year with holiday parties and celebrations, we urge everyone to plan ahead and choose a safe ride home," Porter said.
The average blood alcohol level of people arrested in the state is about 0.14 percent, which is almost twice the legal limit of 0.08, he said.
Last year, 41,006 people in the state were charged with DUI.
In Benton County, 1,413 drivers received DUI citations and Franklin County had 472 charged with DUI.
Lattin said officers aren't trying to ruin people's holiday fun, they just want everyone to stay safe, especially with the added dangers of winter driving.
"Driving in the snow and ice is hard enough," Lattin said. "If you add alcohol to that mix, it can become deadly."
Lost license plate leads to 2 arrests
A license plate left behind at a hit-and-run crash site in Kennewick landed two people in jail early Tuesday.
Carl Jensen Sr., 57, of Pasco, was at West Kennewick Avenue and South Vancouver Street about 1:30 a.m. when a car ran a red light, smashed into his vehicle and then drove off, said Kennewick police Officer Tony Valdez.
Officers traced a license plate that fell off the suspect's car in the collision to a blue 1990 Corsica four-door sedan from Aberdeen. The registered owner was identified and Misty Wilson was found at 1114 W. 10th Ave., Apt. Q104 in Kennewick, Valdez said.
She was arrested and booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of hit-and-run and DUI.
The car was found on the 600 block of South Kent Street with a man inside. Jeremy Curtis, 25, Richland, was arrested for obstructing the investigation and taken to jail.
No one was seriously hurt in the collision but both cars were totaled, Valdez said.
Kennewick cops seek hit-and-run suspect
Kennewick police are looking for help tracking down a driver involved in a hit-and-run crash Monday afternoon.
A blue 1990 Honda Civic was driving west on First Avenue around 4:15 p.m. Monday when he collided head-on with a 2004 Dodge Ram truck at Fruitland Street, said Kennewick police Officer Isaac Merkl.
The driver of the truck, Christopher Miller, 29, of Spokane Valley, was not hurt, but the truck had front-end damage, Merkl said.
The driver of the Civic, described as a Hispanic man around 18 years old, drove away from the collision scene, Merkl said. There was an older male passenger in the car.
Officers contacted the registered owner of the Civic and were told the car had been sold.
Residents are being asked to look out for a blue Civic with Washington license plate ABX4469 and damage to its front end, including the hood.
Anyone with information on the driver or car is asked to called Kennewick police at the nonemergency dispatch line of 628-0333.
Driver who fled accident scene sought by police
Information is being sought by Kennewick police on a driver who crashed into a mailbox Monday and fled the scene.
The crash occurred around 2:40 p.m. at 2636 S. Rainier St., said Officer Isaac Merkl.
Another driver reported the crash and followed the car for a short time, but the suspect driver fled recklessly while trying to get away and the other driver lost him, Merkl said.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers at 586-8477.
Crime Stoppers wants Pasco man for escape
Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office are searching for a Pasco man wanted for escape from community custody.
Martin Arthur Lathim, 37, is 6-foot, 180 pounds with brown hair, green eyes and tattoos on his hands and shoulders.
He was last known to be living on the 400 block of South 25th Avenue.
Lathim is wanted on two felony warrants from the state Department of Corrections for escape from community custody on original charges of possession of meth with intent to manufacture and second-degree possession of a firearm.
Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers pays a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that results in a felony arrest.
Anyone with information about Lathim's whereabouts can call 586-8477 or visit www.tricitiescrimestoppers.org. Tips can also be sent by text message by writing "Text TIP 411" plus the message to CRIMES (274637).
-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; email@example.com