Target Zero team cracks down on drunk drivers

YAKIMA, Wash. -- We're at the height of summer vacation, and many of you are getting ready to hit the road. The last thing you want is for some drunk driver to ruin your plans, maybe even turn your life upside down.

DUI enforcement is getting tighter than ever now that the state patrol has instituted Target Zero. KIMA went along for a ride for Yakima's DUI troopers to get an up-close and personal look.

"So what we're trying to do is find them before they crash or try to prevent them in the first place from making the decision to get in a motor vehicle," said Trooper Trevor Downey.

Trooper Trevor Downey is one of seven in Yakima County on the new Target Zero Team. The selective team is made up of officers with a proven track record of success with DUI cases. Their goal is to reduce highway deaths to zero by the year 2030.

"Anything that can cause a serious or fatal collision we're working it and trying to stop it, educate the driver, whether it be through a verbal warning or enforcement, so they hopefully don't do it again," said Trooper Downey.

The team is following an objective and data driven program that looks especially to problem areas where fatal crashes or injuries commonly occur.

They're out every night of the week, so those that choose to drink and drive have a greater chance of being caught and convicted.

"I've been to many, many fatal collisions where I've got to go to some family member's house and tell them that their family member died because somebody else made the decision to drink and drive," said Trooper Downey.

Through education and stricter laws, the team is starting to notice a difference. On the ride along, Trooper Downey arrested two men for DUIs.

"We've really reduced it, but we're still over 30 deaths a year," said Trooper Downey.

And that's 30 too many for the team that is trying to make our highways and roads safe for us to drive on.

"We're trying to save each and everybody's family members one DUI at a time with education and prevention," said Trooper Downey.

Target Zero's team message is that if you choose to drink and drive here in Yakima County, their team of skilled officers will be doing their best to arrest and prosecute you for putting the rest of us at risk.

The Target Zero team started here in Yakima county on the first of the month. The team is funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.