Deadliest counties for impaired driving namedThe Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) has named the state’s 13 deadliest counties for impaired driving that will be targeted with extra DWI patrols throughout 2010.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) has named the state’s 13 deadliest counties for impaired driving that will be targeted with extra DWI patrols throughout 2010.
Currently, a statewide December-long DWI and seat belt crackdown is being conducted.
In 2010, enhanced DWI patrols will focus on the counties of: Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Ramsey, Rice, St. Louis, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington and Wright. Olmsted, Otter Tail and Scott counties are new additions to the list, replacing the counties of Blue Earth, Crow Wing and Itasca.
These 13 counties accounted for more than one-half of the state’s total alcohol-related deaths (267 of 519) and serious injuries (605 of 1,159) during 2006-2008. The counties are determined based on the total number of alcohol-related deaths and serious injuries over a three-year period.
“Sustained, increased DWI patrols are a necessary strategy in the fight against the illegal and deadly behavior of impaired driving,” said Jean Ryan, alcohol programs coordinator at DPS Office of Traffic Safety. “Minnesota can put the biggest dent in our alcohol-related deaths and injuries by directing resources to these areas.”
In the last five years, 2005-2009, enhanced patrols in the state’s deadliest counties for impaired driving have resulted in 13,453 DWI arrests – one arrest per 16 traffic stops. More than one-half million Minnesotans have a DWI on record, translating to one-in-eight Minnesota drivers.
DPS administers enhanced enforcement by combining resources of state, county and city law enforcement agencies. Ryan says Minnesota DWI enforcement is a model for other states due to successful partnerships among agencies and by conducting “high-visibility” enforcement efforts that employ saturated patrols along a select corridor, electronic signage and officer gear.
The intent of high-visibility enforcement is to generate motorist and community awareness that enforcement is out in force, and as a result, encourage motorists to make safe plans to avoid driving impaired.
Ryan added that a statewide ignition interlock program aimed to combat the issue of unlicensed DWI offenders continuing to drive – and drive impaired – following arrest is another component in the fight against impaired driving.
The program allows certain DWI offenders to regain driving privileges by having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. The program expires June 30, 2011. Information on this program is at www.MinnesotaIgnitionInterlock.org.
Each year in Minnesota, alcohol-related crashes account for up to 200 deaths and 400 serious injuries, costing the state around $225 million.