Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

August 19, 2016

Orange barrels on a highway

This Labor Day, Remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over

Extra DWI enforcers patrol the streets Aug. 19-Sept. 5

Mankato, Minn. – Labor Day weekend is a final hurrah to the fun of a Minnesota summer. An increasing number of motorists are making smart choices behind the wheel, with DWI arrests declining by 40 percent in the last 10 years. To make further progress, 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.

Local law enforcement agencies across the state will help keep Minnesotans safe as they travel and celebrate the final weeks of summer by taking drunk drivers off the road as part of the extra DWI enforcement campaign. The statewide DWI education and enforcement campaign, runs Aug. 19–Sept. 5, is coordinated by the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS).

Highlights:

  • “Everyone plays a role in public safety, especially on our roads. When you get behind the wheel, make sure you are not putting yourself or anyone else at risk — and if you have been drinking, make sure you have a plan for a sober ride home,” said Peggy Sue Garber, trauma and injury prevention coordinator, Mayo Clinic Health System.
  • “Seat belt enforcement goes hand-in-hand with DWI patrols, and with the primary seat belt law, officers will use their ability to stop a motorist for a seat belt violation to their advantage in their effort to take impaired drivers off the roads, so buckle up,” said Captain Jeremy Geiger, Minnesota State Patrol. “This law is especially meaningful as a vast majority of these impaired drivers killed in crashes are also not belted.”
  • “Make just one poor choice by driving drunk and your life or the life of an innocent victim could be changed forever,” said Executive Director of South Central EMS, Mark Griffith.

Drunk Driving, a Sobering Reality
More than 27,000 drivers are arrested for DWI in Minnesota each year, this alarming number
averages more than three DWI arrests per hour throughout the state.

In the last five years (2010 – 2015), there were 462 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in
Minnesota and 50 people were killed in the south central TZD region during the same time frame.

“These are sad, tragic and preventable deaths,” said Capt. Geiger of the Minnesota State Patrol.  “And the fact is, if you’re driving drunk, it’s much better news if you’re stopped and arrested for DWI than causing a preventable tragedy.

DWI Consequences
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.
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.

The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) 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.

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