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Extra patrols may get some drivers 'O'Busted' today

Extra DWI patrols will be on the roads today, St. Patrick's Day, the holiday with the second-highest number of alcohol-related deaths and the third-highest number of DWI arrests during the last three years. The Minnesota Department of Public Safe...

Extra DWI patrols will be on the roads today, St. Patrick's Day, the holiday with the second-highest number of alcohol-related deaths and the third-highest number of DWI arrests during the last three years. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety is coordinating the enforcement.

To promote the increased patrols, DPS is airing a new green beer-themed TV spot, "O'Busted" www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcZj9TmdEdQ .

Statewide on St. Patrick's Day, 2007-2009, alcohol-related crashes accounted for four of seven traffic deaths. During that same time period, 909 drivers were arrested for DWI.

St. Patrick's Day and Memorial Day trail only the Fourth of July as the deadliest impaired driving holiday during the last three years - 11 of 18 traffic deaths during the Independence Day period were alcohol-related during 2007-2009.

Each year in Minnesota, alcohol-related crashes account for more than 140 deaths and 30,000-plus motorists are arrested for DWI. One in seven Minnesotans have a DWI on record. A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.

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DPS urges those partying on St. Patrick's Day to designate a sober driver, take a cab or public transportation, or spend the night at the location of the celebration. Officials also encourage family and friends to offer sober rides to holiday celebrants.

"There are plenty of safe alternatives available on St. Patrick's Day, so there is no excuse for anyone to put lives at risk by driving impaired," says Jean Ryan, impaired driving program coordinator in the Office of Traffic Safety.

Ryan says people need to be aware of the effects of alcohol, especially on day-long party events such as St. Patrick's Day. Drinking for long periods of time will result in high alcohol-concentration levels that will not drop below the legal limit despite breaks in drinking from the morning or afternoon.

The extra St. Patrick's Day DWI enforcement is a component of the state's core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (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.

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