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Extra DWI enforcement: ‘Drunk driving is preventable’

An increased DWI enforcement effort from Thanksgiving to Christmas resulted in 69 traffic stops and the arrest of four motorists and one snowmobiler in Hubbard County. These figures were in addition to the normal duties of patrol officers.

The holiday travel period is historically among the deadliest of the year. Extra DWI enforcement continued through Dec. 28.

In Minnesota during the Thanksgiving travel period (Wednesday through Sunday), 2010-2012:

n Seven people were killed on the roads – five were motorists, of which three were not buckled up.

n Five of the seven people killed were a result of a drunk driving crash.

n 1,522 motorists were arrested for DWI.

“Our goal is to encourage people to get in the habit of making plans for a sober ride so they avoid taking the risk of driving impaired,” said Deputy Brian Halbasch. “Drunk driving is preventable and we can avoid these tragedies when we plan ahead and make smarter decisions. The enhanced enforcement and education effort was coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.”

Minnesota drunk driving facts

Year to date, in 2013, 367 people have been killed in traffic crashes in Minnesota. This compares to 375 deaths in 2012. From 2008-2012, in Hubbard County there were 660 DWIs and 793 car accidents which resulted in 17 deaths on Hubbard County roadways.

“We are trying to do everything we can to try and bring these numbers down,” Halbasch said.

DWI consequences

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

n Plan for a sober ride – designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation or stay at the location of the celebration.

n Offer to be a designated driver, or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere.

n Buckle up – the best defense against a drunk driver.

n Report drunk driving – call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

Extra DWI enforcement and education campaigns are a component of the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. 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 trauma response.