DUI CRACKDOWN: More troopers coming to the Tri-Cities

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - Tougher DUI laws could be enforced by a whole new squad of troopers here in the Tri-Cities. KEPR learned the state patrol plans to assign more officers to our roads. We looked at how troopers will cast a wider net on the drunk driving problem.

Bill Kater can hardly believe it has been 20 years since he lost his son.

"There are these days, it's like it just happened yesterday,"said Bill Kater.

Bill's son died on Christmas Eve. A drunk driver crashed into him head on. Bill cannot even hold a picture of his son in his wallet. The pain is still too great.

"It's a nightmare, it's something that you do not want to have to live with, it never goes away," said Kater.

Washington State Patrol hopes to end the nightmare for families like Bill's. Target Zero has a goal of zero deaths blamed on DUI's by the year 2030. And now the Tri-Cities will get four-new troopers to help us get there.

"The more officers we can have, the more eyes we can have on the road, the better we are to serve the public," said Trooper Dave Brandt.

This can only help a decreasing trend in the Tri-Cities. I dug through the numbers and found DUI arrests are on the decline along state roads. There were eleven fewer last year compared to the year before in 2011. This year, 95 to date. An even better trend is the decreasing number of fatalities on state roads. Last year there were half as many deaths blamed on DUI as the previous year.

"It's great, three cheers for them," said Kater.

Bill will continue to be an advocate for speaking out against drunk driving, especially to kids.

"Use your cell phones, call someone, even if it's your parents who you don't want to know, they might get mad at you, but it is better than them having to attend your funeral," said Kater.

Attending his own son's funeral is something he'll never get past and hopes Target Zero accomplishes its goal of eliminating DUI deaths.

"I should be spoiling his kids, or my grand kids, but that never came to be," said Kater.

Troopers tell KEPR the DUI squad should be hitting our streets later this year.