Photo courtesy of Cox Media Group

Officers Suspect Driving Under the Influence

Two separate crashes occurred just minutes apart in Bothell over the weekend, shutting down a busy highway. At least five people were hurt in the wreck, and officers are investigating whether one of the drivers was driving under the influence.

The first crash on State Route 527 happened when a female driver ran into the car in front of her and flipped, pushing that vehicle into a third car.

Firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life, cutting the roof off of her car, to extract the driver because the car was so severely damaged. The driver of the crushed car and four passengers from another vehicle were transported to a local hospital.

The extent of all the injuries is unknown at this point, but officers are crediting everyone being alive thanks the vehicles’ safety restraint systems.  “It looks like seat belts did their job,” said Darren Timpe, Traffic Unit Sergeant with Bothell PD. It is incredible that no one died in this crash.

Then, just a few yards away, another crash occurred within minutes of the first one. These two crashes kept Bothell Police Department busy Saturday night, interviewing witnesses who had pulled over, originally leading officers to believe that at least a dozen cars has been involved. Officers later clarified the total number was actually just five.

DUI Suspected as the Cause of the Accident

Officers are continuing to investigate whether the driver of the most seriously damaged car was driving under the influence (DUI). Most would assume that DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol. But law enforcement are seeing an substantial increases in drug-related impairment and traffic incidents.

“Marijuana, prescription drugs, narcotics, you name it…we’ve seen all of those probably just this last week.” Sergeant Darren Timpe furthered explained that for every alcohol DUI, officers are seeing an uptick of at least four DUI’s that are drug-related.

Statistics appear to back this observation up. In King County this time last year, troopers made 1,999 DUI arrests. By comparison, those numbers have increased by at least 22%, with 2,565 arrests this year. The Washington State Patrol are already busy, and will continue to have more troopers out looking for DUI drivers throughout the holiday season.

Photo courtesy of Cox Media Group

And just a word of caution—many marijuana users do not take using and driving seriously. Authorities want to remind everyone that DUI caused by alcohol or pot is still DUI-and you will pay a heavy penalty or even possibly do jail time for neglecting the law.

How big is the problem?

  • In 2015, 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (29%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
  • Of the 1, 1,132 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2015, 209 (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • In 2015, nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s 1% percent of the 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.
  • Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes.
  • Marijuana use is increasing and 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system.
  • Marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use, however other factors – such as age and gender – may account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.

It’s Complicated

Impaired driving is still impaired driving–no matter what chemical or stimulant caused the impairment. New information and statistics are starting to explain how driver impairment has changed in recent years. Data from a 2015 study by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility shows that, for the first time, there are more dead drivers testing positive for drugs than there are who were positive for alcohol. Not to diminish the negative impact alcohol continues to have on traffic safety, independent safety expert James Hedlund with Highway Safety North, cautions states and law enforcement agencies dealing with DUI’s,that there could be a greater crisis coming then once thought because drug-impairment can be caused by so many more combinations and variations in it’s forms of abuse.

Officials hope that this report will bring more attention to the need for more training and resources to combat this problem. Hedlund also admonishes drivers to apply and obey the law. “It’s illegal to drive while impaired by drugs in the same way that it’s illegal to drive while impaired by alcohol. And you just plain shouldn’t do it.”

Safety Tips and Information


You can find more related publications about drugged driving and related impairments at:

Here to Help

If you or a loved one has been hurt or injured in an auto accident caused by an impaired driver, call Fielding Law Group for a free appointment and review of your case.  Consulting with a personal injury attorney is one of the best ways to determine your legal rights after an accident. Our experienced auto accident attorneys and legal team will fight and get the compensation you are entitled to for injuries caused by an at-fault driver. Remember–Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!