ST. PAUL – To keep motorists and memories safe this holiday season, law enforcement across the state will be on the lookout for drunk drivers beginning this week. The extra enforcement campaign runs on weekends through December 27.
Holiday parties and family gatherings can create special memories, but for some, the memories are painful after losing a loved one to a drunk driver. Lynne Goughler knows all too well — there is no pressing the rewind button after a drunk driver gets behind the wheel and forever changes the lives of others. Lynne lost both her parents to a drunk driver during the week of Thanksgiving.
“Instead of having the cherished memories of celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, every November I relive the pain of losing my parents,” said Goughler. “It is my dream that in my lifetime we will eliminate drunk driving.”
No Holiday Cheer with Drunk Driving
During the Thanksgiving holiday period over the last three years (2011 – 2013), there were 1,624 drivers arrested for DWI.
Crashes involving drunk drivers have lasting effects on survivors and their families: 17 people suffered life-changing injuries in crashes involving an impaired drive during the Thanksgiving holiday period the last three years.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
An increasing number of motorists are getting the message to drive sober or get pulled over. DWI arrests have gone down every year since 2006 when law enforcement officers arrested 41,951 drivers in Minnesota for DWI. The 2013 numbers statewide dropped to 25,719 — the lowest in recent history.
However, there are almost 600,000 Minnesota residents with a DWI on their record — that’s one out of every seven drivers in the state.
With 279 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota since 2011 - 81 people in 2013 alone - traffic safety officials continue to emphasize enforcement and education in an effort to reduce fatalities on the state’s roads.
“We’re encouraged by the drop in DWI arrests, but it’s clear there is much more work to be done through education and enforcement,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. ”The responsibility falls on all of us. Speak up if you see a friend or family member who has had too much to drink. If you are a server, don’t be afraid to cut off a customer. Let’s keep the holiday memories special, not tragic.”
- 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.
- Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.
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.
- ffer 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 drunk 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.
- 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
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.