Nov 24

Jon Zimmerman

Tips For Avoiding Traffic Tickets During The Thanksgiving Weekend

by Jon Zimmerman

As drivers begin travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, they should be aware that law enforcement will be joining them on the roadway in places such as Seattle, Everett, and Tacoma, and points in between. A couple years ago I wrote about the Thanksgiving holiday weekend being the worst for traffic fatalities. Add more cars to the road, families in confined spaces over long distances, and the sometimes-complicated dynamics of family get-togethers and a recipe exists for distracted drivers and traffic violations. What this usually means is more collisions, more traffic tickets for violations of following too closely, failure to control speed to avoid a collision, speeding, negligent driving, and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle or violations of emergency zones. Whatever the reason for the police pulling someone over, expect a greater emphasis on enforcement.   Below are a few tips for trying to avoid getting cited over the holiday weekend in the State of Washington. 

First, drop the cell phone. Cell phones are a major reason people get pulled over. Distracted or not, and whether you are actually holding the phone to your ear will be secondary to the police officer who pulls you over when the officer sees you holding a cell phone. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled device consider using this, but do not dial or text while driving or even while in traffic. Avoiding these behaviors will save you some hassle.  

Second, if you drink let someone else do the driving. Despite the fact that it is legal to drink and drive in the State of Washington (with limitations, of course), you can be below a .08 and still be charged with DUI or an alcohol-related offense. Thanksgiving is a holiday when law enforcement is going to be serious about enforcement, and you can be serious about your driving. Stay over at a friend’s or family member’s house if you drink over the holiday weekend. Even if you only have a drink, if you are in any collision (even one not your fault) and this causes a police response, the investigation will be longer if the odor of alcohol is detected or you exhibit any signs of impairment. 

Third, try to reduce speed and switch lanes prior to 200 feet, if safe to do so, before you catch up to visible emergency responders, including tow trucks, police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. Under RCW 46.61.212, you can be cited for an enhanced traffic infraction, and if you put or were likely to put an emergency worker in danger, you can be charged with the gross misdemeanor of reckless endangerment of an emergency worker.  Slowing down and creating an extra lane between your vehicle and an emergency response vehicle are good ways to avoid these types of traffic offenses. Of course, if you get cited, you can send me an e-mail or call me for help.


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