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NEWS RELEASE

Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
CONTACT:
Dave Boxum  6512017569
dave.boxum@state.mn.us
Scott Wasserman  6512017571
scott.wasserman@state.mn.us
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 20, 2018
CRASH AT A FRIEND’S, NOT ON THE ROAD; FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS DRIVE IMPAIRED
Extra DWI Enforcement Nov. 21 – Dec. 29


ST. PAUL – The holidays are filled with joy, happiness and time together with family and friends. Too often the joy turns to sorrow when a family is notified of a loved one’s tragic death on Minnesota roads due to someone driving impaired.

To help keep families together this holiday season, more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota are teaming up to get impaired drivers off the road. Officers, deputies and troopers statewide will be participating in an extra DWI enforcement campaign starting Nov. 21 and running on weekends through Dec. 29.  

“As people host holiday parties, it’s crucial for everyone to have a plan before consuming alcohol,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “As your guests arrive, ask them about their plans, and if they don’t have a plan, get them a ride home or offer them a bed for the night. It’s much better to lie in a bed than a coffin or jail cell.”

The Choice is Yours
The decision to get behind the wheel after drinking is costing too many people their lives over the holiday season. The choice to drive drunk has contributed to 28 deaths on Minnesota roads from the day before Thanksgiving through Dec. 30 in the last five years (2012-2017).  

Holiday DWI Arrests (Day before Thanksgiving – Dec. 30)

​Year ​DWIs
​2013 ​2,556
​2014 ​2,565
​2015 ​2,381
​2016 ​2,271
​2017 ​2,717
​Total ​12,490

 

DWI Arrests Year-Round

​Year ​DWIs
​2013 ​26,014
​2014 ​25,393
​2015 ​25,374
​2016 ​24,059
​2017 ​24,862
​Total ​125,701

 

Holiday DWI Arrests Per Hour (2013-2017)

  • Halloween – 4.0
  • Fourth of July – 3.9
  • Labor Day – 3.8
  • St. Patrick’s Day – 3.8
  • Memorial Day – 3.6
  • Thanksgiving – 3.6
  • New Year’s Day – 3.3
  •  Super Bowl – 3.2
  • Cinco de Mayo – 3.0
  • Christmas – 2.5
  • Annual Average – 2.9

Blackout Wednesday Dangers
Blackout Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) is traditionally associated with a night of binge drinking. Many college students are returning home for a night of celebrating with friends and with no work on Thursday, many adults get together after a short work-week.

Last year, 133 drivers were arrested for DWI during a 12 hour period on Blackout Wednesday (6 p.m. Wednesday – 6 a.m. Thanksgiving). For a typical 48 hour period (Wednesday-Thursday), roughly 100 people are arrested in Minnesota for DWI.

“Blackout Wednesday is one of the most dangerous nights on Minnesota roads,” said Lt. Gordon Shank, Minnesota State Patrol. “I’ve worked Blackout Wednesday a number of years, and I get frustrated every time I make a DWI arrest where a driver could have easily planned for a sober ride. I’m thankful I was able to get the driver off the road to prevent a potential tragedy, but making the right choice before I meet you will help save lives.”

Drugged Driving is Dangerous Driving
If you feel different, you drive different, whether it’s from alcohol, cold medicine, a prescription or any other drug. In the last 10 years, Minnesota has seen a significant increase in DWIs involving a controlled substance while alcohol offenses have declined over this same period. 
 

Comparison of DWI Incidents in Minnesota​

During 2008-2012 and 2013-2017

 
Years​ Controlled Substance Only​ Alcohol Only​ DWI Incidents​
​Minnesota Total, 2008-2012 ​ 4,477  ​152,593  ​157,070
Minnesota Total, 2013-2017​ ​ 7,949 ​117,752 ​125,701
Percent Change​ ​+78 percent ​-23 percent ​   -20 percent

 
DWI Consequences

  • Loss of license for up to a year, thousands of dollars 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.
  • First-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above are required to use interlock for one year.
  • Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

Speak Up and Plan a Sober Ride

  • Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, or stay at the location of the celebration.
  • Speak up – Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
  • Buckle up — the best defense 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.

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: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public SafetyOffice of Traffic Safety (DPS-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. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for child seats for the needy families program.

DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. 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 medical and trauma response — and everyone doing the right thing when driving.

Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics

  • Officers, deputies and troopers arrested 1,369 drivers for DWI during the Aug. 17 – Sept. 2 extra enforcement campaign, compared with 1,370 arrests during last year's campaign.
  • During the extra speed enforcement campaign from July 6 – 22, officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies issued 14,661 speed citations and 1,625 child seat violations.
  • During the extra seat belt enforcement campaign from May 21 – June 3, seat belt citations declined for the fourth straight year. Officers, deputies and troopers from 318 agencies reported 6,684 seat belt citations and 147 child seat violations.

 

 

445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov