La Grande, Ore. – (Release from Oregon Department of Transportation) After participating as volunteers in a “wet lab” on June 6 in Boardman, Marilyn Holt and Robin Harris of Pendleton witnessed how important it is for law enforcement to have quality equipment for training. The purpose of a wet lab is to help educate police officers by letting them practice their standardized field sobriety tests on volunteers who have been consuming alcohol under the supervision of trained law enforcement. These hands-on experiences go a long way in improving the detection of drivers who are under the influence of intoxicants. After being volunteers in the Boardman wet lab, Holt and Harris wanted to do what they could to ensure that law enforcement members “…have the best tools available for the program.”
In the fall of 2022, Holt and Harris purchased two Intoxilyzer® 800 portable breath testing devices and donated them for law enforcement training in eastern Oregon. Having these devices reserved for training saves time and are more easily transported than the breathalyzer used when a driver is suspected of driving under the influence.
“I’m encouraged by their willingness to help… what a positive impact,” said Sergeant Tim Plummer, Drug Evaluation and Classification Program coordinator with the Oregon State Police.
When asked why this was a program that they felt so strongly about, Holt shared, “It’s important to us because we have seen first-hand the effects of impaired drivers and their actions. After over 30 years with ODOT, I saw so many horribly tragic deaths and crashes from drunk driving. I also saw (and was involved in) some close calls with drunk drivers in our work zones. Everything we can do to help support our law enforcement partners more effectively get these drivers off the road is one step toward preventing these tragedies.”
From 2016-2020 in eastern Oregon, an average of 20 people per year were killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes related to alcohol use and an average of 17 people per year were killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes related to drug use.
“Providing our local law enforcement with the tools they need to continue their work to get impaired drivers off the road includes more than just having more law enforcement available,” said Billie-Jo Nickens, Transportation Safety coordinator with the Oregon Department of Transportation. “We also need to be able to have quality training opportunities in eastern Oregon so the law enforcement we do have available are as highly trained as possible. The generosity from Marilyn and Robin will be felt for many years in this program. It has also started more conversations statewide about finding creative ways to support law enforcement training.”