ST. PAUL — Minnesota law enforcement officers have arrested 605 drunk drivers two weekends into a statewide DWI enforcement campaign, according to Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety preliminary reports.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign runs through Labor Day. State officials are urging Minnesotans to plan ahead for a sober ride to avoid the dangers and harsh consequences of a DWI.
A similar DWI crackdown to close out summer in 2011 resulted in 1,787 DWI arrests.
“There is no excuse for drunk driving, but far too often people find an excuse and find themselves in serious trouble,” says Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol. “Close out the end to summer safely by having a safe and sober ride arranged in advance of celebrating.”
Minnesota Drunk Driving Facts
During the past five years, 2007–2011, 651 people were killed in Minnesota drunk driving crashes, accounting for one-third of the state’s 2,165 total road deaths: 2011 — 111; 2010 — 121; 2009 — 112; 2008 — 137; 2007 — 170. Officials say the 34 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths from five years ago points to motorist making smart plans for a sober ride and the effectiveness of enhanced enforcement and education campaigns.
In 2011, 29,257 motorists were arrested for DWI, the average alcohol-concentration of an offender was 0.16. One in seven Minnesota drivers have a DWI on record.
Consequences of a DWI
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.
Each year in Minnesota, 40 percent of the alcohol-related traffic deaths involve repeat offenders.
Tips to Prevent 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 and wear protective motorcycle gear — 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.
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 motorcycle safety programs and child seats for needy families.
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
- 23,285 speeders were ticketed during a July statewide speed campaign.
- OTS issued the2011 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report, citing 368 traffic deaths for the year, the lowest since 1944 and a 44 percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago.
- OTS recognized the state’s DWI Enforcer All-Stars at Target Field June 25. The leading DWI enforcer is Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Mark Hibbard with 241 DWI arrests in 2011.
- July 1 marked one year of the state’s ignition interlock DWI sanction. More than 4,000 DWI offenders are using ignition interlock to benefit road safety and ensure legal, sober driving.
- Media are encouraged to download and broadcast or place OTS public service announcements to advance road safety.
- Media are encouraged to localize traffic safety news by referencing county-specific crash facts.