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Drivers given St. Patrick’s Day weekend warnings

The Minnesota State Patrol recognizes that historically, St. Patrick’s Day is a dangerous drinking and driving party time.

Troopers, deputies and officers from around Minnesota will be working Towards Zero Deaths (TZD) Driving While Impaired shifts all weekend, in conjunction with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, as well as on Monday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead for a sober ride, not to drink and drive, and report suspected impaired drivers.

Department of Public Safety records from the Office of Traffic Safety show that since 2009, the number of people arrested for DWI on St. Patrick’s Day has gone up every year through 2012, with preliminary 2013 data finally showing a dip in DWI arrests:

● 2009 – 218

● 2010 – 225

● 2011 – 289

● 2012 – 346

● 2013 – 223 (preliminary)

Sgt. Jesse Grabow, regional public information officer, said, “Our officers would rather not have to make arrests or have needless tragedies occur, but we are relying on people to plan ahead, especially because of the potential for a weekend-long celebration.”

DWI enforcement and education is a component of the state’s core traffic safety initiative, TZD. 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. Local passenger safety coalitions around Minnesota support these efforts.