ST. PAUL – Drunk driving kills. Drunk driving seriously injures. Drunk driving is preventable, and law enforcement statewide will be focusing on keeping Minnesotans safe as they celebrate the final weeks of summer. More than 300 agencies will be taking drunk drivers off the road as part of the extra DWI enforcement campaign Aug. 19 — Sept. 5.
Summer Winds Down, DWIs Go Up
More Minnesotans need to plan ahead as summer winds down. In the last five years (2011 – 2015), August was the worst month for DWI offenders, averaging 2,509 arrests, followed by March (2,399) and July (2,354). On average, drunk driving will be a contributing factor in one fatality, and alcohol will be involved in two life-changing injuries during the Labor Day holiday period.
Serious Injuries Are Life-changing Injuries
While people can survive serious injuries, they can face a lifetime of difficulties. For Erica Bodell of Cambridge, she and her three children survived when a drunk driver hit her vehicle in November 2015 but all four were injured. Her 3-year-old daughter is paralyzed, and other injuries to the family included broken legs, a fractured skull and nerve damage.
“I am very fortunate to be alive and that my three children are alive,” said Bodell. “I could have easily died last November, and I could have lost my family. I’m thankful we’re alive, but I’m also sad, angry and frustrated that a drunk driver changed our lives forever. Please don’t make a bad decision to get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.”
Encouraging Downward Trend in DWI Arrests
Minnesotans can stop themselves and others from getting behind the wheel impaired. An increasing number of motorists are making smart choices behind the wheel with DWI arrests declining by 40 percent in the last 10 years.
“Nothing beats hanging out with friends and family during a Minnesota summer, but it’s a problem when we think we’re okay to drive after having a few drinks,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Celebrate over Labor Day weekend but have a plan for yourself and others before anybody gets behind the wheel. Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.”The Toll of Drunk Driving
- Each year, an average of 253 life-changing injuries involve alcohol-related crashes.
- In the last five years (2011 – 2015), 17 percent of all fatal crashes in Minnesota during the Labor Day holiday period were drunk driving-related.
- In the same five-year span, there were 462 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota.
A DWI offense can result in 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.
Commit to a Sober Ride
- Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation 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.
- 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
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
- Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2015 is a summary of traffic crashes derived from law enforcement reports and describes how, why and where crashes occurred and who was involved.
- Law enforcement statewide issued 13,214 citations for unsafe speeds and 1,543 seat belt citations during the extra speed enforcement campaign July 8 – 22..
Law enforcement handed out 7,233 seat belt and 213 child restraint citations during the most recentClick It or Ticket
extra enforcement campaign.
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