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Editorial: Extra patrols in place for Labor Day

As summer winds down, don’t wind up a statistic because of poor choices with drinking and driving. The Labor Day holiday is approaching the Towards Zero Deaths (TZD) Hubbard County Safe Roads Community Coalition want you to know about a Labor Day DWI mobilization to keep area roads safe.

The stepped-up statewide and nationwide DWI enforcement effort runs through Sept. 1 and is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS/OTS).

Many motorists are making safer choices as education, laws and enforcement have positively influenced behaviors over the last several decades. Approximately 60 percent of traffic deaths per year in Minnesota were alcohol-related in the 1960s compared to 30 percent last year.

Last year in Minnesota, 25,719 motorists were arrested for DWI with 96 arrests occurring in Hubbard County.

From 2011–2013, there were 310 impaired-related traffic deaths in Minnesota and 95 were killed in 2013 alone. In Hubbard County during the last three years, there were 14 impaired-related traffic deaths with 4 fatalities just last year.

“The number of alcohol-related crashes and fatalities, as well as DWI arrests, is a call to action for all of us to plan ahead for a sober ride,” says Raeann Mayer, TZD Hubbard County Safe Roads Coordinator. “Life has no rewind, and we need to educate and enforce as long as motorists think the tragedies of drinking and driving won’t happen to them.”

A DWI offense can result in 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.

Here are some tips to prevent drunk driving:

n Plan for a safe 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.

The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s TZD initiative. A primary vision of the 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.