Extra drunk driving enforcement starts now - and if you're caught, it'll cost you more than money

MOORHEAD, Minn. (Valley News Live) - As we head into the deadliest weekend on the roads, community members are speaking out against drunk driving and law enforcement is stepping up.

Around this time last year, Minnesota troopers arrested more than 400 people for drunk driving.

And over the last couple of years, more than a hundred people died in drunk driving crashes.

Local experts say the accidents and deaths are preventable, and have lasting impacts on the victims, their families, and the drivers.

As a first responder, Katy Kressin has seen the effects of drunk driving crashes and says to stop them – all it takes is somebody speaking up.

“You take care of the person, you take care of the situation, and get through it. And it always is one of those things you think about afterwards – if it could have been prevented or how things could have gone differently,” she says. “Speak up. Be someone’s designated driver. Go get them if they need somebody. Speak up to your friends if they’re impaired, don’t let them drive when they’re impaired.”

“Sometimes the worst prison to be in is to be a prisoner in your own mind because of the guilt and the choices that you’ve made,” says Sergeant Jesse Grabow, with the Minnesota State Patrol. “Obviously with a DUI, there’s going to be consequences. The fine, the arrest, the jail time, the cost, and the economic impact it will have on you and your wallet. But you put that into perspective with a crash where you hurt somebody else or take a life. I mean, there’s just no going back. There’s no redoing of that.”

To prevent more accidents, more than 300 agencies are coming together to add extra enforcement on the roads. The DWI enforcement campaign starts Thursday night and runs through September 2nd.

Read the full release below:

Extra DWI Patrols on Roads Aug. 16 – Sept. 2

Detroit Lakes, Minn. – Long drives, scenic bike rides and evening walks. They are all part of summer in Minnesota, but if you’re an impaired driver, pedestrian or bicyclist, your summer days may abruptly end.

Crashes involving alcohol continue to change Minnesotans lives forever. From 2014-2018 (preliminary), there were 127 people who lost their lives in drunk driving crashes during the summer months, the deadliest season. While drunk driving continues to be a leading factor in traffic fatalities, impaired bicyclists and pedestrians also play a role in lives that are changed forever with 481 alcohol-related serious injuries during the same timeframe.

Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities and Alcohol-Related Serious Injuries
Months Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities
(drunk driving-related is any driver at .08 or above) Alcohol-Related
Serious Injuries
(alcohol-related is any evidence of alcohol in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist)
December – February 69 294
March – May 113 446
June – August 127 481
September - November 103 436

To help keep the roads safe, the Minnesota State Patrol and other local law enforcement will be participating with law enforcement statewide in an extra DWI enforcement campaign starting Aug. 16 and running through Sept. 2.

Officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies will be working overtime with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the extra enforcement and education effort.

“We all need to take responsibility for our own actions,” said Sgt. Jesse Grabow of the Minnesota State Patrol. “If you are a driver, line up a sober ride. If you’ve been drinking, stay off your bicycle as your judgement can be impaired. If you’ve been drinking and are walking to a destination, make sure a sober friend is walking with you. One bad choice can lead to a lifetime of heartache.”

Labor Day DWI Arrests (Friday – Tuesday)
Year DWIs
2014 441
2015 500
2016 421
2017 449
2018 401
Total 2,212

DWI Arrests Year-Round
Year DWIs
2014 25,389
2015 25,371
2016 24,103
2017 25,128
2018 26,414
Total 126,405

DWI Consequences
• 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.
• First-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above are required to use interlock for one year.
• Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

Speak Up and Plan a Sober Ride
• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, 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. The Minnesota departments of Public Safety, Transportation and Health collaborate on improving traffic safety for all. 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.

• Driving While Impaired (DWI) is a violation for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Alcohol-related: any evidence of alcohol detected in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist.
• Impaired-related: any driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.
• Drunk-driving-related: any driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.

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