Troopers seeing fewer drunk and high drivers on the road

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- As we wrap-up the first week of the year, your chances of being hit by a drunk driver are way down. Strict new DUI laws seem to have made all the difference, even as a potential new threat of marijuana emerges.

One local driver, Monte Kelsey tells KEPR, "Drinking and driving is an issue. This year with the road conditions the way they are, it's really gonna be an issue."

Monte Kelsey is always looking out for danger, including on the roads. And troopers say, they are seeing a lot more people taking that same responsible stance.

"We've seen in the past few years, a lower number of DUI's as a result of the responsibility people are starting to take," says WSP Trooper Sid Grant

Take New Year's eve for example, because it's usually a big holiday for potential drunk drivers. Since 2010, the number of DUI arrests here in the Tri-Cities have decreased, with only 9 arrests this past week.

But troopers were out in full force making close to one-hundred stops.. If they accused someone of drinking behind the wheel, it's voluntary to take a breathalizer test.

But since marijuana was legalized on December 6th, troopers are facing a more difficult situation. Police trained for drug recognition have to be called to a traffic stop to make sure drivers aren't high.

"They should not be driving.. Especially with road conditions the way they are," Monte points out.

Monte knows the end of the holidays don't mean an end to fewer drivers who have had too much to drink.

He continues, "That'll deter some.. There's always parties going on everywhere."

Federal grant money paid for two additional troopers on the road during the holidays in our area... But we are told they are back to their regular shifts.