MYNORTHWEST NEWS

WSP trooper ‘saved untold lives, perhaps yours’ as he made 4,000th DUI arrest

May 25, 2024, 9:54 AM | Updated: 3:42 pm

Image: Trooper Barry Marcus has been with the Washington State Patrol since 1992....

Trooper Barry Marcus has been with the Washington State Patrol since 1992. (Photo courtesy of the Washington State Patrol)

(Photo courtesy of the Washington State Patrol)

Trooper Barry Marcus, a Spokane-based veteran of the Washington State Patrol (WSP), made his 4,000th career DUI arrest April 30, the agency reported in a statement to the press Friday.

Marcus has spent 23 years of his 32-year career with the WSP on the state’s roads working the weekend night shift — Wednesday through Saturday — when the dangers of impaired driving are particularly pressing.

In a related video released by the WSP, Marcus spoke about the tragedies he has seen in his career, along with the agony of delivering next-of-kin notifications in collisions where impaired driving was involved.

“People haven’t had to do that or see that they don’t quite understand it,” Marcus said in the video.

But instead of being frightened or exhausted by those tragedies, they motivated the state trooper.

“In me, it lit a flame that keeps burning pretty bright as far as what I want to try to stop that … and then keep other people from having to experience that. I’d rather stop people prior to getting into a collision,” Marcus added.

WSP District 4 Captain Jeff Otis complimented Marcus for his passion and said it rubs off on the people around him.

“For him to do what he’s done for this long and to deal with the most challenging typical suspects that we deal with on a nightly basis is just incredible,” Otis said. “He does not slow down and continues to take these dangerous drivers off the road.”

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In the video, WSP Sergeant and District 4 Public Information Officer Greg Riddell also noted Marcus’ fervor and eagerness to get people driving under the influence off the streets.

“His tenacity, his ambition is, bar none, the highest I’ve ever seen out of any trooper,” Riddell said. “It’s his personal fulfillment to go and take impaired drivers off the roadway and go out and create a safer environment for the residents here in Spokane and in Washington.”

WSP Chief John R. Batiste explained as part of the news release that Marcus’ DUI numbers put him consistently in the top annual performance category and “to do that for more than three decades is something we just hold in awe and appreciation.”

“Trooper Marcus has saved untold lives by removing so many dangerous drivers from the roads. Perhaps yours, perhaps someone you love, perhaps my own,” Batiste added.

How Trooper Marcus got here

Marcus grew up in Spokane and had a friend whose dad was a trooper. During a ride-along with that trooper in October 1991, Marcus saw how the trooper handled himself when pulling over an impaired driver.

“I was impressed, and right at that point, I said this is the job for me, Marcus said in the agency’s statement. “There was no looking back after that – that’s the job that I wanted to do.”

Trooper Marcus graduated with the 75th Trooper Basic Training Class in 1992.

Marcus, in the WSP video, also called out and praised his wife and family for their roles in Marcus’ career as the hours required to be successful and make those arrests required sacrifices from multiple people.

“For almost 23 years I’ve given the state Friday and Saturday nights because, primarily, that’s when you’re going to have your highest DUI numbers,” Marcus said. “This is something that my wife had to be fully on board (with). She deserves a tremendous amount of credit for allowing me to do this part of the job.”

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Alcohol and impaired driving numbers in Washington

In the conclusion of its news release, the WSP reminded drivers that now the Memorial Day weekend is here, “driving impaired can be the worst and most dangerous decision in your lives.”

According to a December 2023 report from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) delivered to the Washington State Legislature, the state saw the number of traffic fatalities involving a driver impaired due to drugs and alcohol rise over four consecutive years between 2019 and 2022. (A PDF of the report can be seen here.)

Notably, Washington recorded 674 traffic fatalities in 2021 and 345 occurred in crashes involving an impaired driver (51.2%). In 2022, the number jumped to 740 fatalities with 389 linked to an impaired driver (52.6%, a rise of 1.4%).

Given the numbers, the WTSC, in its report, suggested the Washington State House and Senate should seriously consider legislation to lower the legal BAC limit from 0.08% to 0.05% in Washington. A Senate bill, SB 5002, was introduced to address the possibility but it did not advance out of committee.”

The agency wants state residents to enjoy the holiday weekend, but to do it safely.

“Drive responsibly, obey the speed limits, put the phones and devices away, don’t follow too closely and never drive impaired,” the WSP said in its statement.

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, or email him here.

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