Extra DWI patrols planned through Labor Day

Published 6:14 am Sunday, August 19, 2012

Local law enforcement agencies have begun a stepped-up statewide and nationwide drunken driving enforcement effort that will continue through Sept. 3.

Each year in Minnesota, nearly 30,000 motorists are arrested for driving while intoxicated. There were 198 arrests in Freeborn County in 2011. During the last three years in the state, 2009-11, 344 people were killed in drunk driving crashes In Freeborn County during this period, drunk driving resulted in five deaths.

“Drunk driving is a deadly problem that continues to haunt our highways,” said Albert Lea Police Lt. J.D. Carlson. “The added patrols aim to remind motorists to avoid the risk and dangers of driving drunk and plan ahead for a sober ride.”

Email newsletter signup

A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.

Certain DWI offenders are also eligible to use ignition interlock. Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use 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 install interlock and use it for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges. Users must provide a breath sample into the interlock with an alcohol concentration below 0.02 in order for the vehicle to start.

Officers are also encouraging seat belt use during the campaign.

Each year 75 percent of drinking drivers killed are also not belted. Minnesota’s primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions — including the back seat — to be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement will stop and ticket unbelted drivers and passengers.

Law enforcement encourages people to utilize these safe driving behaviors:

• Designate a sober driver, use a cab or public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration.

• Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear.

• Report drunk driving. Call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Witnesses must be prepared to provide location, license plate and observed dangerous behavior.

The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths initiative.