ST. PAUL – As Minnesotans enjoy the final days of summer, motorists are encouraged to keep the celebrating safe and not deadly. To help with the effort, law enforcement will be focusing extra attention on drunk drivers during a DWI enforcement and education campaign Aug. 16 through September 1. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the campaign, which is part of a nationwide effort.
In the last three years (2011 – 2013), 279 people lost their lives in drunk driving crashes in Minnesota and 81 were killed in 2013 alone. Beyond the fatalities, 2,300 people suffered injuries in alcohol-related crashes last year.
“It takes just one very poor decision to shatter so many lives,” said Donna Berger, OTS director. “Summer days are special to Minnesotans as we enjoy our lakes, parks and all the beauty and activities our state has to offer. Let’s keep these days special and all motorists safe by not letting drinking and driving destroy lives.”
Honoring the Victims of Impaired Driving
While alcohol-related deaths have steadily declined over the years, the state of Minnesota wants to help ensure the memories of those injured and killed will never go away. Governor Mark Dayton is officially proclaiming Thursday, August 14, 2014, as Impaired Driving Victims Day to honor those memories and underscore the importance of driving sober.
As part of the proclamation, the state is recognizing the value of the special license plate – “Remembering Victims of Impaired Drivers” – in honoring crash victims, supporting their loved ones, and increasing awareness for safe driving. The state began offering the license plate to motorists in August 2010. More than 1,000 vehicles in Minnesota are displaying the plate that features a broken heart image encircled by the phrase “Remembering Victims of Impaired Drivers.”
Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts
- 387 people died in traffic crashes last year and 81 (21 percent) were in crashes involving drunk drivers.
- 25,719 motorists were arrested for DWI (an average of 70 per day) in 2013.
A DWI offense can result in loss of a 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. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.
Drunk Driving Prevention and Safety
- Plan for a safe ride – designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation or stay at the location of the celebration.
- Offer to be a designated driver, or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere.
- 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
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
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 (TZD) traffic safety initiative.
Recent OTS Activity and Statistics
- As of August 13, there have been 199 traffic deaths reported, 16 fewer than were reported this time last year.
- Officers cited 16,926 drivers for speeding during a July enforcement campaign.
- The May 19-June 1 Click It or Ticket campaign reported 10,874 seat belt citations and 279 child restraint tickets from 329 law enforcement agencies.
- Final reports on enhanced enforcement for distracted driving during April 11-20 reported 827 texting citations from 308 law enforcement agencies.
- Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2013 is a summary of last year’s traffic crashes, derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.
- In a continuing effort to advance traffic safety in Minnesota, DPS awarded new federal grants totaling more than $8.5 million for regional partners to support overtime traffic safety enforcement and educational efforts through September 2014.