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Law enforcement agencies begin stepped-up DWI enforcement

The Albert Lea Police Department and Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office started an extra DWI enforcement campaign on Friday with other law enforcement officers across the state. 

The campaign runs through Sept. 7.

Officers, deputies and troopers from across the state will be working overtime with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the extra enforcement and education effort.

“We all need to take responsibility for our own actions,” said Albert Lea police Lt. Jeff Strom in a press release. “Drive smart and  line up a sober ride if you plan on drinking. If you’ve been drinking, stay off your bicycle as your judgement can be impaired. If you’ve been drinking and are walking to a destination, make sure a sober friend is walking with you. One bad choice can lead to a lifetime of heartache.”

The release stated from 2015 through 2019, there were 137 people who lost their lives in drunken driving crashes during the summer months. While drunken driving continues to be a leading factor in traffic fatalities, impaired bicyclists and pedestrians also play a role in lives that are changed forever with 472 alcohol-related serious injuries during the same timeframe.

Law enforcement officers across the state arrested 26,415 people for drunken driving in 2019. 

The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths  program. The Minnesota departments of public safety, transportation and health collaborate on improving traffic safety for all. A primary vision of the 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. The program focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes: education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma response.