ST. PAUL — Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead for a sober ride New Year’s Eve as Minnesota attempts to make it five years in a row with no drunk driving traffic deaths during the holiday, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
In the last 10 years, there have been eight drunk driving deaths during the New Year’s holiday; zero in the past four years.
“Statistics show more people are doing the right thing by planning ahead for a safe ride home on New Year’s Eve,” says Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving coordinator. “We hope people make a resolution to continue that behavior throughout all of 2013.”
DPS 10-year data shows a reduction in New Year’s Eve–New Year’s Day drunk driving deaths and serious injuries:
- 25 deaths; seven (28 percent) involved a drunk driver.
- 60 serious injuries; (43 percent) 26 were alcohol-related.
- 1,608 DWI arrests (322 per-year average).
- 10 deaths; one (10 percent) involved a drunk driver (zero in last four years).
- 24 serious injuries; eight (33 percent) were alcohol-related.
- 1,477 DWI arrests (295 per-year average).
Despite the downward trend in drunk driving incidents, New Year’s Eve still has the potential to be a dangerous night on Minnesota roads.
“All it takes is one bad decision for our roads to turn deadly,” says Lt. Eric Roeske, Minnesota State Patrol. “In many cases, that bad decision occurs when someone decides get behind the wheel after a night of drinking.”
Many law enforcement agencies statewide will be increasing DWI patrols on New Year’s Eve to encourage smart decisions and enforce the law.
"Toasted" — New Year's Eve TV Spot
DPS is airing a new TV spot this week, "Toasted," to encourage motorists to avoid the dangers and consequences of drunk driving. View the spot at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXDTSwTzTGM&feature=youtu.be, or download a broadcast-quality .MOV file here: https://mndeptpublicsafety.sharefile.com/d/sd19934ec4d94ea29
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.
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.
- Metro Transit is offering free rides on New Year’s Eve from 6 p.m. through the last scheduled trip on buses and light rail.
- Those not planning to drink should let family/friends know that they are available to offer a sober ride home.
- Buckle up — 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 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 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 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. 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
- Traffic deaths are spiking in 2012 — to-date there have been 369 deaths, up from 343 at this time in 2011.
- DWI arrest results from a statewide December DWI enforcement effort will be announced in January 2013.
- OTS is investing federal grants totaling more than $7 million to 317 law enforcement agencies and community partner groups for enforcement and education campaigns, Oct. 2012¬–Sept. 30, 2013.
- The 2011 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report notes 368 traffic deaths for the year, the lowest since 1944 and a 44 percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago.
- More than 4,000 DWI offenders are using ignition interlock to benefit road safety and ensure legal, sober driving.
- OTS news archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/Pages/news.aspx