8 arrested for drunken driving locally during nationwide effort

Published 6:38 am Sunday, September 9, 2012

Local law enforcement officers arrested eight drunk drivers during a nationwide end-of-summer DWI enforcement effort, Aug. 17 to Sept. 3. Around 400 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota participated in the state’s effort conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

“The many arrests from the campaign demonstrated that people are still making poor choices and putting roads in danger,” says Albert Lea Police Lt. J.D. Carlson. “We can make progress and advance the fight against drunk driving by taking simple, preventable steps, and step one is to always plan ahead for a sober ride.”

Each year in Minnesota, nearly 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI — there were 198 arrests in Freeborn County in 2011. During the last three years in the state, 2009 to 2011, 344 people were killed in drunk driving crashes — nearly one-third of 1,200 total deaths. In Freeborn County during this period, drunk driving resulted in five deaths.

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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 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.

Law enforcement encourages people to utilize these safe driving behaviors:

• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation or stay at the location of the celebration. Families should let each other know that they will be available to offer a safe ride home.

• Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear — the best defenses against an impaired driver.

• Report impaired 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 Death (TZD) initiative. 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 trauma response.