Remember: Make the Right Choice - Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over
Extra DWI Patrols Aug. 18 – Sept. 3
ST PETER, Minn. – Whether it’s having fun on the boat or playing beach volleyball, it’s easy for a person to lose track of how much alcohol they’re drinking while out celebrating the final days of summer. It’s easy to forget that driving home with a buzz is drunk driving.
As summer winds down, officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies statewide will be working overtime with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the extra enforcement and education effort, which runs Aug. 18–Sept. 3.
As law enforcement kicks off the extra enforcement period, Mark Griffith, South Central EMS director, is speaking out as a reminder to make good choices when celebrating the upcoming Labor Day holiday.
“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 Griffith. “Don’t be afraid to speak up. Take the keys away from a friend or loved one, and find them a sober ride home. It could save a life, even yours.”
According to Blue Earth County Commissioner Drew Campbell, “The focus of the local safe roads coalitions in Blue Earth, Nicollet and Le Sueur counties has been on getting impaired drivers off our roads.”
The local coalition members have partnered with local bars and law enforcement to place thank you notes on vehicles left in the parking lots of these establishments. “These individuals made the right choice to call a cab, friend or family member, to pick them up,” said Campbell.
Drivers Heeding the Warnings
Preliminary numbers show there were 73 drunk driving-related fatalities last year compared with 95 in 2015, a 22 percent decrease.
“We have confidence that people will make the right choice during the upcoming Labor Day holiday and beyond by planning ahead for a sober ride,” said Cpt. Jeremy Geiger, Minnesota State Patrol. “But if you choose to drive impaired, Troopers will be out on the roads, focusing on getting drunk drivers off the road before they hurt or kill themselves or others that are sharing the road. To help make the summer travel season safe and enjoyable for everyone, motorists need to drive sober, pay attention, slow down and buckle up.”
- 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.
Commit to a Sober Ride
- 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. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
- 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.