According to the state's Office of Traffic Safety, an estimated 1,005 people have been arrested on DWI charges in Minnesota since a month-long enforcement crackdown began on Nov. 27.
The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign will run through December, and state and local law enforcement agencies are already working overtime in an effort to reduce alcohol-related crashes and fatalities.
"Our first priority is always to educate motorists about the dangers of drunk driving and remind them how important it is to plan ahead for a sober ride," said Lt. Eric Roeske, Minnesota State Patrol. "Unfortunately, we still have motorists who choose to ignore that message. Enforcement efforts like this are essential in getting these motorists off the road before they cause direct harm to anyone else."
25 MOST DANGEROUS COUNTIES
Law enforcement efforts are being concentrated on the 25 counties with the highest combined totals of deaths and injuries attributed to drunk driving in the past three years.
4. St. Louis
8. Otter Tail
16. Crow Wing
18. Mille Lacs
25. Blue Earth
According to state data, the counties listed above accounted for 202 of the state's drunk driving deaths -- 60 percent -- and 620 of the alcohol-related serious injuries, or 71 percent.
COUNTY-BY-COUNTY LIST: http://bit.ly/1jUabQt [PDF]
Extra DWI patrols will continue periodically in those counties through September of next year, and will be paid for through a federally-funded enforcement program.
NEARLY 30,000 ARRESTED IN 2012
Statewide data on alcohol-related driving offenses from the last year show that in 2012:
- 104 people were killed
- 2,644 people were injured
- 28,418 people were arrested
- Average blood-alcohol concentration of offenders was .154
A DWI offense can cost the offending driver their license for up to a year, incur thousands of dollars in both damage and response costs, and could lead to possible jail time.
Repeat DWI offenders and first-time offenders who are arrested with BAC readings of .16 and above are required to use ignition interlock devices in order to regain legal driving status or lose their license for a year; however, offenders with three or more offenses must use the interlock devices for a period of between 3-6 years or their license will be permanently revoked.
SAFE DRIVING STRATEGIES
The easiest way to avoid an alcohol-related crash or injury is to always plan a sober ride. Officials encourage citizens to offer to be designated drivers to their friends and loved ones, anytime and anywhere.
Safety officials also stress the importance of buckling up, describing it as "the best defense against a drunk driver."
Motorists are also encouraged to report any suspected drunk driver by calling 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Callers should be prepared to provide information on:
- License plate number
- Details on the dangerous behavior