Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
A statewide DWI enforcement campaign began Aug. 17, and will run through Sept. 3. Its relevance is underscored by 2011 statistics showing 68 percent of deaths in drunk driving crashes involved drivers that had alcohol concentrations twice the 0.08 legal limit.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety, and is also being conducted nationally.
“Half a million Minnesotans who have a DWI on record can tell you how their arrest turned their lives upside down,” says Col. Kevin Daly, chief of the State Patrol. “The hard consequences of drunk driving can be easily avoided by planning ahead and making smart decisions.”
Minnesota drunk driving facts
During the past five years, 2007–2011, 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.
In Morrison County, from 2007 – 2011, 929 motorists were arrested for DWI, 1,749 crashes were reported with 29 deaths resulting. Of those 29, 10 were alcohol-related, 12 were due to unbelted occupants. Three motorcycle deaths occured in those years, one related to alcohol.
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; and
• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.