Summer is a busy time on Minnesota roads and the deadliest season for crashes involving alcohol.
From 2014-2108, 127 people lost their lives in drunk driving crashes around the state in the months of June, July and August, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
While drunk driving continues to be a leading factor in traffic fatalities, impaired bicyclists and pedestrians also play a role as there were 481 alcohol-related serious injuries involving drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists during the same time period.
To help keep Minnesota roads safe, the Minnesota State Patrol, along with other local law enforcement officers, will be participating in a state-wide extra DWI enforcement campaign that starts Friday, Aug. 16 and runs through Sept. 2.
Officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies will be working overtime with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with coordination from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
"We all need to take responsibility for our own actions," said Sgt. Jesse Grabow with the Minnesota State Patrol. "If you are a driver, line up a sober ride. If you’ve been drinking, stay off your bicycle as your judgement can be impaired. If you’ve been drinking and are walking to a destination, make sure a sober friend is walking with you. One bad choice can lead to a lifetime of heartache."
The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state's Toward Zero Deaths program. One of the primary goals of the program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota where motorists support the goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior.
Toward Zero Deaths focuses on four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma response.
Law enforcement agencies around the state encourage the public to:
- Plan for a sober ride. Designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option or stay at the location of the celebration.
- Speak up. Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
- Buckle up. This is one of the best defenses 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 behaviors.
In the last five years, state-wide, there have been 126,405 DWI arrests. Of that, 2,212 occurred during the Labor Day holiday, from Friday through Tuesday.