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Best way to celebrate freedom every day? Be free of drunk driving.

July 6, 2017

Photo of a man taking Breathalyzer test.
​Photo: Take a cab, take the bus, take a spot on your host’s couch overnight—just don’t take your car home if you’ve been drinking. This year’s Fourth of July DWI arrests were up 22 percent over last year.

 

The days following the Fourth of July are often reserved for sweeping up the remains of spent fireworks, making plans for leftover picnic food, and generally recovering from a day of celebrating our nation’s freedom. But because of drunk driving, some Minnesotans are spending this week getting bailed out of jail or trying to figure out how to pay steep traffic tickets or get around after losing their license. Worse yet, some are mourning the loss of loved ones killed by drunk drivers.

That’s because the Fourth of July is the second leading holiday for DWI arrests per hour in Minnesota. Over the last five years (2012-2016), 2,016 people were arrested for driving under the influence during the July 4 holiday period, including 412 in 2016 alone. And preliminary numbers show that 503 people were arrested for DWIs in that same period this year. That’s a 22 percent increase.

Sadly, drunk driving contributed to the deaths of 21 people over the last five years during the Fourth of July holiday period in Minnesota, which includes six people in 2016: three motorcyclists, one pedestrian, one bicyclist, and one farm equipment operator. And according to preliminary numbers, three motorcyclists were killed this year over the long holiday weekend, one of which authorities suspect involved alcohol.

These heartbreaking statistics only serve to enforce what you already know: It’s vitally important to find a sober ride, on holidays like the Fourth or any other day. There are so many options available, you’re sure to be able to find one that works for you. For example, if you have to ride to and from the celebration, you can:

  • Designate a sober driver ahead of time.
  • Take a cab.
  • Take public transportation.
  • Arrange to stay overnight at the party’s location.

If you’re within walking distance, use the buddy system to make sure everyone gets home safely. Riding your motorcycle to the party? Motorcycle Dial-a-Ride offers free rides for both riders and their motorcycles to prevent drunk riding. Call 888-342-5743 for help.

Other actions you can take so that you and your loved ones stay safe on the roads: Speak up by offering to be a designated driver or pick up a friend anytime, anywhere. Buckle up: It’s the best defense against injury in a vehicle, whether alcohol is involved or not. Report: If you witness impaired driving behavior, call 911 when it’s safe to do so. Be prepared to provide the location, license plate number, and behavior witnessed.

Here’s hoping your Fourth of July was wonderful and that you didn’t have to deal with any of the awful consequences associated with driving under the influence. These simple tips can help you enjoy celebrations on the Fourth of July – and every day – for years to come.​​​