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Scarier than ghosts and goblins: Drunk drivers on Halloween

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Alexandria Police Department will be out in full force looking for impaired drivers haunting the highways on Halloween weekend.

The holiday is an annual concern and this year it falls on a weekend - increasing the potential for more Halloween parties and impaired driving behavior. The sheriff's office and police department would like to remind Halloween party hosts and revelers to plan for sober rides home and keep Douglas County roads safe.

Halloween is one of the biggest party nights of the year. During the Halloween party weekends 2007-2009, alcohol-related crashes accounted for eight of the 15 traffic deaths and 40 percent of the serious injuries. Also during this period, 1,471 motorists were arrested for DWI.

The dangers are not limited to just vehicle drivers. Of the 15 Halloween weekend deaths during the last three years, five were motorcyclists.

"Halloween has become a real 'fright night' for impaired driving," said Douglas County Deputy Sheriff Brandon Chaffins. "Drunk drivers put everybody at risk, so expect to see law enforcement out in full force."

In 2007-2009 in Douglas County, there were four alcohol-related deaths and eight alcohol-related injuries, costing the county more than $1 million. Last year, 266 impaired drivers were arrested for DWI in the county. In Minnesota during this same period, alcohol-related crashes resulted in 494 deaths and 998 serious injuries - and 107,219 motorists were arrested for DWI.

The sheriff's office and police department also emphasize the importance of pedestrian safety on Halloween. Trick-or-treaters and parents should review basic rules: Be aware of moving traffic, cross streets only at intersections or marked crosswalks, carry flashlights and use reflective clothing. Motorists should reduce speeds and expect to see pedestrians.