13 targeted counties get increased enforcement through September
ST. PAUL — Roads in Minnesota’s 13 counties with the highest combined totals of drunk driving traffic deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries are the focus of increased DWI enforcement Wednesday, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
Extra DWI patrols will continue in the 13 counties through September 2013 as part of a 12-month, federally funded enforcement program.
Minnesota’s top 13 dangerous DWI counties targeted for extra DWI patrols accounted for nearly half of the state’s 160 drunk driving deaths and more than half of the state’s 436 alcohol-related serious injuries during 2009–2011. The counties are Hennepin, Ramsey, St. Louis, Anoka, Dakota, Olmsted, Washington, Stearns, Wright, Sherburne, Becker, Meeker and Otter Tail.
New to the list are Becker, Meeker and Otter Tail counties. Taken off the list from 2012 enforcement are Carver, Rice and Scott counties. The 13 counties are determined by their total number of drunk driving deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries during a three-year period.
Law enforcement agencies in the 13 counties will use high-visibility enforcement tactics to alert motorists of increased enforcement — including electronic message board signs and heavy patrols along specific corridors. Advertising will accompany the enforcement to encourage Minnesotans to avoid driving impaired.
“These counties account for a great portion of our drunk driving tragedies and investing in DWI enforcement and education can help prevent impaired driving incidents,” said Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving coordinator.
Thanksgiving is historically among the busiest and deadliest holiday travel periods of the year. Officials remind motorists to buckle up, drive at safe speeds and pay attention. From 2009 through 2011, there were 11 traffic deaths, six were a result of a drunk driver; eight of the 11 people killed were motorists and five were not buckled up; and 1,631 motorists were arrested for 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.
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.