Driving drunk is a bad idea, especially now

Published 9:39 am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Local law enforcement will kick off a stepped-up effort on Friday in an attempt to crack down on drunken drivers.

The campaign, coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, will go through Sept. 2.

In Freeborn County in 2012, there were 157 drunken driving arrests and two drunken driving deaths, according to a news release. Across the state, nearly 30,000 people were arrested for DWI and 104 people were killed in the same time frame.

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“Drinking and driving is always a bad idea, so the best course of action is to plan ahead for a sober ride,” said Albert Lea Police Department Lt. Jeff Strom. “Don’t wait till you’re impaired and then decide how to get home safely.”

He said he hopes the extra enforcement will remind people of the risks and dangers of drunken driving.

A DWI conviction can result in the loss of a driver’s license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.

Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at a 0.16 alcohol-concentration level or higher, must use ignition interlock 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.

The news release offered four tips to prevent drunken driving:

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

• Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one any time.

• Buckle your seat belts.

• Call 911 when you witness impaired driving behavior.

Officers and deputies will also be encouraging seat belt use during the campaign.

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