The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is once again expecting its busiest day of the year to be the last one on the calendar.

In fact, New Year's Eve not only has a higher annual rate of DUI arrests in the Evergreen State, but nationwide as well.

WSP Trooper Jeremy Weber says although December 31 always sees more drunk drivers than any other day, in many ways it's the same as any other day for regional law enforcement.

"No matter what time of the year it is, getting drunk drivers off the road is our bread and butter at the State Patrol and we're looking for the same types of impairment in drivers every night of the year. So while we are always busier, we don't set up any specific New Year's Eve events or patrols since we're always doing that."

Weber says while it's possible there might be a few more troopers on the road for New Year's Eve, the agency's staffing levels have yet to fully recover, making the vigilant citizens of Washington State more important than ever for reporting drivers who are possibly intoxicated.

"We do rely heavily upon the community and people calling us if they see something that's not right or that's off, and we ask them to please call 9-1-1 and report that driver. County and city deputies and officers monitor the same frequencies for radio traffic, so if we can't get to the location of a reported drunk driver fast enough, they will."

Weber says it's important to remember that alcohol is not the only substance which can impair a driver, but also marijuana and even some medications which are legally obtained though a prescription.

He also reminds those who might consider getting behind the wheel while intoxicated about the potential consequences of doing so, including the standard $10,000 to $12,000 in fines and court costs for a DUI charge, having one's driving privileges suspended or revoked, and injuring or killing themselves or someone else - which can even lead to charges of vehicular manslaughter or homicide.

Statewide, the WSP averages over 200 DUI arrests annually on New Year's Eve, which is more than double nearly every other day of the year.

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