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St. Pat's Day partiers could pay a price

St. Patrick’s Day partiers are reminded to plan ahead for a sober ride before their celebrations as law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota will be adding extra DWI patrols on the roads to prevent alcohol-related crashes. 

According to the Minnesota Department Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS/OTS), St. Patrick’s Day historically is a dangerous drinking and driving period. Officials are especially concerned this year as the holiday falls on a Monday, since revelers may make a long weekend of celebrating.

“Long-weekend holiday celebrations can make for a potentially dangerous situation on our roads,” says Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “Be smart, keep safe and plan ahead for a sober ride if you plan on drinking.”

In the past five years, more than 1,450 motorists were arrested for DWI on St. Patrick’s Day, and the number has risen every year:

  • 2009 (Tues.) – 218
  • 2010 (Wed.) – 225
  • 2011 (Thurs.) – 289
  • 2012 (Sat.) – 346
  • 2013 (Sun.) – 375

In addition, there were 1,768 crashes during the same time period, resulting in nine traffic fatalities; one of the deaths involved a drunk driver in 2011.

Drunk Driving in Minnesota

Each year, nearly 28,000 people are arrested for DWI and approximately 35 percent of all traffic deaths are alcohol-related. One in seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI on record.

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

  • Plan for a sober ride – designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation or stay at the location of the celebration.
  • Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere.
  • 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.
Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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