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Don’t get a DWI for Christmas

The Minnesota State Patrol reported dozens of vehicle crashes and vehicles that went off the road in the northern part of the state.

When it snows and the roads become slippery, Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol NE Region Public Information Officer, wants to remind all drivers to reduce their speeds, wear their seatbelt and make sure to turn on their headlights. This will help reduce the chances of being involved in a crash.

Driving cautiously also involves driving sober.

Local sheriff’s deputies and city police officers are conducting extra DWI enforcement to keep motorists and memories safe this holiday season. The extra enforcement campaign runs on weekends through Dec. 27.

A person is more likely to die in an alcohol-related crash during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Forty percent of traffic deaths during the holidays involve an impaired driver according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

In the last three years (2011–2013), there were 279 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota and 81 people were killed in 2013 alone.

In Hubbard County during the last three years, there were two drunk driving traffic deaths with four fatalities just last year.

In addition there were 844 alcohol-related serious injuries and 83,958 DWI arrests in the last three years.

An increasing number of motorists tempted to drive drunk are getting the message to drive sober or get pulled over.

DWI arrests have gone down every year since 2006. In 2006 law enforcement officers arrested 41,951 drivers in Minnesota for DWI with 183 arrests occurring in Hubbard County. The 2013 numbers statewide dropped to 25,719 the lowest in Minnesota history.

“We hear it time and time again from offenders – ‘If I could just go back and get a ride home my friend would be alive today,” said Deputy Brian Halbasch. “We’re encouraged by the drop in DWI arrests, but it’s clear there is much more work to be done through education and law enforcement. The responsibility falls on all of us. Speak up if you see a friend or family member who has had too much to drink. If you are a server, don’t be afraid to cut off a customer. Let’s keep the holiday memories special, not tragic.”

  • Loss of license for up to a year, thousands of dollars 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 safe ride – designate a sober driver, use a taxi or 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. – Park Rapids Enterprise