ST. PAUL – “Thank you for deciding not to drink and drive. Your life and the lives of others depend on making the right choice.” That message will be placed on vehicles left overnight at a Twin Cities establishment to thank customers for being responsible citizens.
The “thank you” is part of the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety holiday campaign to get more people to join the crowd and find a sober ride after consuming alcohol.
“It’s way more valuable to us for our customers to be safe than to have an open parking space at our establishment,” said Emily Brink, operations manager at The Happy Gnome in St. Paul.
Officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies across the state will be conducting extra DWI enforcement patrols starting Nov. 23 and running weekends through Dec. 30. The extra enforcement and education effort is coordinated by the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
“It just takes that one moment, that one time to shatter a life forever,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “If you are truly someone’s friend or a family member of someone who is impaired, you won’t let them get behind the wheel this holiday season.”
Learning from History
Summer enforcement is behind us but there are lessons to be learned from drivers’ poor choices as Minnesotans begin celebrating the holidays. Troopers, sheriff deputies and police made 1,351 DWI arrests during the Aug. 19 – Sept. 5 extra enforcement campaign. Committing to a sober drive is never too late.
Summer DWI campaign arrests included:
- Winona County Sheriff’s Office arrested a driver for DWI who had his intoxicated brother as a passenger. The brother was arrested for DWI less than an hour later while driving the same vehicle.
- Two Harbors Police arrested a motorist for fleeing and DWI after striking a firetruck and squad car at a crash scene. During the pursuit, the driver struck two more squad cars.
- Hutchinson Police arrested an individual who attempted to drive through a roundabout and got stuck.
Drivers Heeding the Warnings
Drivers are heeding the warnings during the holidays as November (1,931) and December (1,876) were the months with the lowest number of DWI arrests in 2015.
2015 MONTHLY DWI ARREST HISTORY
• 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.
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.
- 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
- Sheriff’s deputies, police officers and troopers from more than 300 law enforcement agencies issued 4,351 seat belt citations and 166 child seat citations Oct. 14 – 30.
- Law enforcement statewide made 1,351 DWI arrests during the summer extra enforcement period Aug. 19 – Sept. 5.
- 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.
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