Drinking and driving has consequences

Published 6:01 am Sunday, September 1, 2013

Column: Families First, by Maryanne Law

Question: Is there actually a state campaign to get drunk drivers off the roads?

Answer: The “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is statewide and nationwide with increased law enforcement patrols for arresting intoxicated drivers from Aug. 16 through Labor Day. With warm fall weather and a holiday weekend, there is an increase in impaired driving activity and, as a result, the higher risk for drunk driving crashes. Drunk driving is a serious safety issue. Drunk driving crashes have killed 585 people in the last five years in Minnesota, and drunk driving is a factor in one-third of the state’s total deaths annually. Males in their 20s are the biggest DWI offenders, the ones who are arrested most often and, of course, killed most often.

Maryanne Law

Maryanne Law

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If you are a parent or grandparent of a teen or college-aged driver, talk to your student about the consequences of underage drinking as summer draws to a close and big party weekends loom with students returning to the school or campus. The state’s “Not a Drop” law says driving minors cited for any amount of alcohol use will lose their license from 30 to 180 days and face up to a $700 fine and 90 days in jail. Minors will lose their license until age 18 if they are arrested for DWI or involved in an impaired driving crash or crime. Trying to purchase alcohol with a fake ID can result in a loss of driving privileges for at least 90 days.

Minnesota’s tough DWI sanctions include the use of ignition interlock. All repeat offenders, arrested at any level, and first time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level must use ignition interlock, or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Those with three or more offenses must use interlock for three to six years or never regain driving privileges. Interlocks installed in vehicles require the driver to provide a breath sample in order for the vehicle to start.

Adults who provide alcohol to underage drinkers will be held responsible and face serious criminal and legal consequences and are also subject to civil liability in cases of injury, property damage or death. Civil liability is not covered by most insurance. If an adult provides alcohol to an underage person and that person is killed or injured, or if they kill or injure someone else, the adult can be charged with a felony and face time in prison.

You can help counteract drunk driving: plan ahead for a sober ride, offer to pick up a relative or friend anytime, anywhere and report drunk drivers by calling 911.

To talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org.


Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.