ST. PAUL – The Big Game is full of big decisions, and for football fans, the most important choice could be whether to drive drunk or get a sober ride home. Minnesota motorists who make the wrong decision will encounter extra DWI patrols during the Big Game weekend.
In the past 10 years, DWI arrests in Minnesota have spiked by 24 percent during the Big Game weekend compared to the weekend before, and 18 percent more compared to the following weekend, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
Former Viking Encourages Motorists to Drive Sober
Minnesota Vikings great Chuck Foreman knows what it’s like to play in the Big Game. When Foreman took the handoff, he had to make tough choices on the field, but off the field, the decision to drive sober was easy.
“I knew if I made the wrong choice, I risked not only fumbling away my career, but possibly my life or someone else’s life,” said Foreman.
Big Game Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk
This weekend, extra DWI patrols will be on Minnesota roads in most of the 25 most dangerous counties to stop drunk drivers before they hurt themselves or others.
On the Big Game day and into Monday, an average of 190 drivers will be arrested for DWI and at least one person will die.
“If you’re not fit to drive, make the right choice after the game and crash at your friend’s house and not on the road,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director.
DWI Arrests and Deaths on the Decline
Through education, enhanced enforcement and awareness, drivers are getting the message to plan for a sober ride. According to preliminary numbers, DWI arrests declined in Minnesota for the eighth straight year with 2014 seeing more than 1,500 fewer DWI’s (24,159) than 2013 (25,719).
In 2013, 81 people died from drunk driving-related crashes. Drunk driving-related deaths dropped from 196 to 81 from 2003 – 2013, a nearly 59 percent decline.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.