PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — While we have fewer drivers on the roads and fewer reported DUIIs, traffic officers are still dealing with plenty of issues.
Sheriff’s deputies in Washington County said they have definitely seen a drop in DUII numbers, but also said that the people they are catching are way over the legal limit and they are hitting the road while the sun is still out.
“We’ve seen a lot more people under the influence during the day,” said Sgt. Bob Ray with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said that day drinking and driving has skyrocketed in the county over the past few weeks.
“Normally, we would not get a lot of daytime DUI arrests or crashes, and we’ve seen a significant increase in that—probably four to five times as many as we would normally get,” said Ray.
He said, typically, in the month of March, the sheriff’s office gets around 70-80 DUIIs. Bar closures on St. Patrick’s Day knocked that number down to around 37, but Ray said that’s still a disturbingly high number since bars and restaurants have been shut down. He’s troubled that more people are driving drunk while the sun is up.
“I mean, we have people, members of the public, that are calling in DUI drivers at 2, 3, 4 in the afternoon,” said Ray. “We had one that was four times the amount of the blood alcohol limit that a person is supposed to have.”
He said that those who are pulled over are excessively over the limit.
“Overall, it appears the numbers of the Blood Alcohol Content during the day are significantly higher,” said Ray.
And it’s not just impaired drivers deputies are stopping. They have also reported a spike in severe speeding as drivers take advantage of the lack of traffic. That includes several cases of drivers who were busted while going over 110 miles-per-hour, which is cause for arrest.
“It’s certainly not an excuse for people to go 80, 90, 100 or over 100 miles-per-hour, which we had several in Washington County,” said Ray.
He said some drivers seem to think that law enforcement has taken some kind of break, but adds that’s far from the truth.
“We are getting many speeders well over 100 miles-per-hour and a bunch of them just thought we aren’t out doing our job,” said Ray. “But we are out in full force, so don’t think for a second we are not out protecting the public because we are.”
If you double the speed limit, the penalties increase as well. According to Ray, offenders can be arrested and could face a $1,150 citation. The sheriff’s office points out that during the shutdown, they actually have more deputies on patrol, plus extreme speeders are now easier to spot.