ST. PAUL – Long drives, scenic bike rides and evening walks. They are all part of summer in Minnesota, but if you’re an impaired driver, pedestrian or bicyclist, your summer days may abruptly end.
That’s why officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies will be working extra DWI enforcement shifts starting tomorrow and running through Sept. 2. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the overtime funds with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinating the extra enforcement and education effort.
Summer Buzz Kill
Crashes involving alcohol continue to change Minnesotans lives forever, especially during the summer months. From 2012-2016, there were 138 people who lost their lives in drunk driving crashes from June through August. While drunk driving continues to be a leading factor in traffic fatalities, there were 414 alcohol-related serious injuries during the same timeframe.
Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities and Alcohol-Related Serious Injuries 2012 - 2016
Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities
(drunk driving-related is any driver at .08 or above)
(alcohol-related is any evidence of alcohol in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist)
|December - January
|March - May
|June - August
|September - November
“From drunk drivers behind the wheel to pedestrians and bicyclists who have had too much to drink, we all need to be responsible for our actions on the road,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “If you are a driver, line up a sober ride. If you’ve been drinking, stay off your bicycle as your judgment can be impaired. If you’ve been drinking and are walking to a destination, make sure a sober friend is walking with you. One bad choice can lead to a lifetime of heartache.”
Labor Day – No Time Off for Law Enforcement
The Labor Day period is a working holiday for troopers, officers and deputies who are finding drunk drivers behind the wheel. The holiday period is the third worst for drunk drivers based on DWI arrests per hour at 3.8 (Halloween is the worst at 4 per hour).
Law enforcement officers consistently arrest more than 400 people for drunk driving during the long holiday weekend, and about 25,000 are arrested each year.
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 Eve – 3.3
- Super Bowl – 3.2
- Christmas – 2.5
- Annual Average – 2.5
Labor Day DWI Arrests (Friday – Tuesday)
DWI Arrests Year-Round
- 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.
- Driving While Impaired (DWI) is a violation for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Alcohol-related: any evidence of alcohol detected in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist.
- Impaired-related: any driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.
- Drunk-driving-related: any driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.
About the Minnesota Department 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 Safety Office 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 the child seats for 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.
Recent DPS-OTS Activity and Statistics
- 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.
- DPS Video: Life without Lindsay: Sober Driving Matters
- Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) show 358 people died on Minnesota roads in 2017. These numbers may change, but this is the lowest number of fatalities in Minnesota since 1944 (356).