ST. PAUL — The scariest thing on Halloween isn’t your Zombie NFL Replacement Referee costume, it’s drunk driving — which has resulted in seven deaths and 24 serious, life-altering injuries during Halloween party weekends in the last five years.
Minnesota State Patrol troopers, county deputies and municipal officers are increasing their DWI enforcement presence this weekend. During Halloween party weekends, 2007–2011, 2,342 motorists were arrested for DWI. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety is coordinating the effort.
“One costume you don’t want to be wearing for Halloween is a county jail suit,” says Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving program coordinator. “Before you plan what you’re wearing, plan a sober way home to avoid the dangers and consequences of a DWI.”
This weekend also wraps up a statewide, increased Click It or Ticket seat belt campaign.
Drunk Driving in Minnesota
Each year, around 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI in Minnesota. Drunk driving crashes have resulted in 651 deaths during the past five years — 111 in 2011. In 2011, the average DWI offender was arrested with a 0.155 alcohol-concentration level.
A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.
Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges, or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.
Preventing Drunk Driving
• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration. Let family/friends know you are available to offer a safe ride home.
• Buckle up — the best defenses against a drunk driver.
• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.
Look for Feet During Trick-or-Treat
DPS also emphasizes the importance of pedestrian safety on Halloween. Trick-or-treaters and parents should review basic rules — be aware of moving traffic, cross streets only at intersections or marked crosswalks, carry flashlights and use reflective clothing. Trick-or-treaters should continue to look both ways as they cross, as distracted drivers may not be looking for them. Motorists should reduce speeds and be prepared to see and stop for pedestrians.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: enforcement, education and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements, and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program. OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights