Long drives, scenic bike rides and evening walks. They are all part of summer in Minnesota, but if you’re an impaired driver, pedestrian or bicyclist, your summer days may abruptly end.
Crashes involving alcohol continue to change Minnesotans lives forever. From 2014-2018 (preliminary), there were 127 people who lost their lives in drunk driving crashes during the summer months, the deadliest season. While drunk driving continues to be a leading factor in traffic fatalities, impaired bicyclists and pedestrians also play a role in lives that are changed forever with 481 alcohol-related serious injuries during the same timeframe.
Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities and Alcohol-Related Serious Injuries 2014-2018
|Months||Fatalities (driver .08 or above)||Serious Injuries (any presence of alcohol)|
To help keep the roads safe, the East Grand Forks, Crookston and Thief River Falls Police Departments, along with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office will be participating with law enforcement statewide in an extra DWI enforcement campaign starting August 16 and running through September 2.
Officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies will be working overtime with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the extra enforcement and education effort.
“We all need to take responsibility for our own actions,” said East Grand Forks Police Chief Mike Hedlund. “If you are a driver, line up a sober ride. If you’ve been drinking, stay off your bicycle as your judgment 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.”
Labor Day DWI Arrests (Friday-Tuesday)
DWI Arrests Year-Round
- 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.
- First-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above are required to use interlock for one year.
- Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.
Speak Up and Plan a Sober Ride
- Plan for a safe 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 — 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.
Local agencies participating in the statewide campaign are the Crookston Police Department, East Grand Forks Police Department, Thief River Falls Police Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (as well as the MN State Patrol).
The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) program. The Minnesota Departments of Public Safety, Transportation and Health collaborate on improving traffic safety for all. 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 medical and trauma response.
- Driving While Impaired (DWI) is a violation for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Alcohol-related: any evidence of alcohol detected in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist.
- Impaired-related: any driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.
- Drunk-driving-related: any driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.