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Holiday DUI patrols nail thousands

It’s been a tough few weeks for drunks on the road.

Statewide, more than 3,577 suspected drunken drivers were busted between Nov. 25 and Jan. 2, when police did a special emphasis looking for people who had too much at holiday Christmas parties, family functions, their work holiday party or on a regular night out.

Of that number, 876 of them were in King County, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which sponsored the “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed” campaign.

During 2009, the lastest year for which full statistics were available, impaired drivers killed more than half of the 491 people who died on Washington’s roadways, according to the Traffic Safety Commission.

However, that number – 264 — was down nine compared to the previous five-year average.

More than 25 agencies had extra patrols through Jan. 2, funded by a Traffic Safety Commission grant. They included police from Seattle, Kent, Bellevue, Mercer Island, North Bend and Renton.

Despite the extra emphasis, police say there were still dozens of collisions by impaired drivers during the holiday season.

The most notable recently in King County was the collision involving Lagrant Darnel Pegram. Police say the 35-year-old ran a red light and slammed into another car, killing 21-year-old Emmanual Franco.

Pegram is alleged to have been drunk when the crash occurred. A blood draw taken after the 2 a.m. crash showed Pegram’s blood alcohol level was .24, three times the legal limit, according to charging documents.

Investigators say Pegram drove his Chevrolet Suburban past two stopped cars before entering the intersection of Pacific Highway South and South 320th Street. His SUV then slammed into the side of Franco’s car, causing catastrophic injuries to the other man.

Pegram, who has previous convictions for drunk driving and vehicular assault, has been charged with vehicular homicide. He remains jailed and has not entered a plea.

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