After 50 years, Seattle’s Police DUI Unit Is Scheduled to Be CutIn 1970, the Seattle police department developed a special Driving Under the Influence (DUI) police unit. The unit was created with the help of federal funds. Now comes word that the officers in the unit, including many with expertise in drug recognition and suspicion of DUI arrests, will be reassigned to patrol duty.

The news of the cut was reported in September 2020. Supporters of the DUI unit and the officers worry that that the cuts may endanger the community. The cuts were announced “as part of the new interim police chief’s effort to slash overtime costs and improve 911 response times.” Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz announced that the 100 specialty officers and supervisors will now work in emergency control.

The DUI unit handled thousands of DUI stops and helped prosecutors with their cases. One officer who worked 20 years with the DUI unit said that the experience the officers gained through the special focus of the unit helped them detect signs a person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

According to KING5, deaths due to alcohol and drugs are rising in Washington. In 2011, there were 215 such deaths. In 2016 and 2017, alcohol and drug-related vehicle deaths rose to 270 per year.

The response to the Seattle DUI cuts

One DUI prosecutor, who is also a member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), said she hopes there’s a way to continue supporting a DUI squad because the unit had strong success in investigating DUI cases. She said DUI squad officers often were called into to help less experienced officers when a DUI arrest was made – so the less experienced officer could respond to other matters, while the more experienced officer handled the DUI case.

Members of the DUI squad “are working with their union and command staff to try to salvage the unit, which is set to be scrapped by mid-September.”

Speak with an experienced Washington State DUI attorney as soon as you’ve been arrested.

At Philbrook Law Office, our experienced Vancouver, WA DUI defense lawyers have been fighting for criminal defendants for 20 years. We assert all your legal and factual defenses including contesting whether the police followed proper procedures. DUI convictions generally mean time in jail and a loss of driving privileges. To speak with a skilled lawyer who will fight to have the charges against you dismissed, call us at 360-205-9615 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment. We have offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA.