Extra DWI patrols through Labor Day

Published 10:13 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

Albert Lea police, Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Minnesota State Patrol troopers will conduct extra patrols on local roads until next month to prevent drunken driving.

The statewide campaign that covers Albert Lea and Freeborn County roads started Friday and lasts until Sept. 3, according to a press release announcing the campaign.

“Learning from past mistakes is crucial,” said Albert Lea Police Department Lt. Jeff Strom in a press release. “Unfortunately, too many drivers didn’t line up a sober ride during the winter holidays, as more than 2,400 motorists statewide were arrested during the last DWI extra enforcement period.

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“Planning ahead is the key to a safe and enjoyable night out. Know how you are getting home before you leave. Don’t wait (until) after you have been consuming to make a poor choice. Value your life and the lives of other Minnesotans. Friends, speak up and stop the person from driving that you know should not be.”

People who see a drunk person about to drive are advised to give them a safe ride home. Individuals are also asked to buckle up and report drunk drivers by calling 911.

According to the press release, officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies are working overtime with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Extra enforcement and education are coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

According to the press release, Labor Day is the most dangerous holiday to be on the road with drunken drivers. From 2011-15, four people were killed in drunken driving-related crashes, the press release stated.

There were reportedly 74 drunken driving-related fatalities last year — a 22-percent decrease from the 95 people who died from crashes involving drunk driving in 2015, the press release stated.

Possible penalties for drunk driving include losing a driver’s license for one year, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time. People who are convicted of repeat drunk-driving offenses or have at least a 0.16 blood alcohol content when arrested must use an ignition interlock for three to six years to regain driving privileges.

The campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths program, which is meant to create a safe driving culture and relies on education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma response to reduce crashes.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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