Extra DWI patrols on Labor Day

489 DWI arrests in Isanti County in last three years

Drive sober or get pulled over. Local law enforcement agencies will crack down on drunk and impaired drivers during a stepped-up statewide and nationwide DWI enforcement effort, through Sept. 5. The statewide campaign is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

On average in Minnesota, 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI each year—there were 138 arrests in Isanti County in 2010. During the last three years in the state, 2008–2010, there was an average of 145 alcohol-related deaths and 300 alcohol-related serious injuries.

DPS reports enhanced DWI enforcement campaigns have factored in the state recording a trend of fewer alcohol-related deaths. Last year, 131 motorists were killed in alcohol-related crashes, the lowest on record since the statistic was first measured in 1984; down from 141 in 2009.

“DWI enforcement is important to stop preventable crashes and their resulting tragedies,” said Bob Bollenbeck, Toward Zero Death (TZD) Coordinator. “Law enforcement will be doing their part to make roads safer, and we need everyone else to do the same or they will face very damaging consequences.”

A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.

Another new consequence for DWI in Minnesota is use of ignition interlock. First-time Minnesota DWI offenders with a 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, and all repeat DWI need to use ignition interlock, or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Interlock is installed under the dashboard of the vehicle and connected to its starter. Users must provide a breath sample into the interlock with an alcohol concentration below 0.02 in order for the vehicle to start.

Officers, deputies and troopers are also encouraging seat belt use during the campaign. Each year, 75 percent of drinking drivers killed are also not belted. Minnesota’s primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions—including the back seat—to be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement will stop and ticket unbelted drivers and passengers.

The Isanti County TZD Coalition encourages people to:

• Plan for a safe ride—designate a sober driver, use a safe 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.