605 drunk driving arrests to-date during enforcement effort: Statewide and nationwide DWI enforcement runs through Labor Day

ST. PAUL — Minnesota law enforcement officers have arrested 605 drunk drivers in the last two weekends of a statewide DWI enforcement campaign, according to Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety preliminary reports.

The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign runs through Labor Day. State officials are urging Minnesotans to plan ahead for a sober ride to avoid the dangers and harsh consequences of a DWI.

A similar DWI crackdown to close out summer in 2011 resulted in 1,787 DWI arrests.

“There is no excuse for drunk driving, but far too often people find an excuse and find themselves in serious trouble,” said Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol. “Close out the end to summer safely by having a safe and sober ride arranged in advance of celebrating.”

Minnesota Drunk Driving Facts

  • From 2007 through 2011, 651 people were killed in Minnesota drunk driving crashes, accounting for one-third of the state’s 2,165 total road deaths: 2011: 111; 2010: 121; 2009: 112; 2008: 137; 2007: 170.
  • Officials say the 34 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths from five years ago points to motorist making smart plans for a sober ride and the effectiveness of enhanced enforcement and education campaigns.
  • In 2011, 29,257 motorists were arrested for DWI, the average alcohol-concentration of an offender was 0.16. One in seven Minnesota drivers have a DWI on record.

 Consequences of a DWI

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.

Each year in Minnesota, 40 percent of the alcohol-related traffic deaths involve repeat offenders.

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. Let family/friends know you are available to offer a safe ride home.

Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear — 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.