Learning from past mistakes can help motorists as Minnesota prepares to welcome Super Bowl fans from across the state, country and the world.
During the holiday DWI campaign that included extra enforcement from Nov. 22 – Dec. 31, officers, deputies and troopers arrested 2,656 drivers for driving impaired compared with 2,407 DWI arrests during the same period in 2016.
More than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota participated in the campaign which was conducted by the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS).
“Nobody plans on getting behind the wheel and taking a life, but that’s exactly what you are risking if you decide to drive after drinking,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “If you plan on drinking, make a sober game plan. The message is simple: before watching the big game or heading out to enjoy an evening that may include alcohol, plan ahead and line up a sober ride.”
Super Bowl weekend is typically a challenging time on roads, with some people choosing to get behind the wheel after drinking. During a five year period (2011-15), an average of 180 people were arrested for DWI during Super Bowl weekend. With the big game in Minneapolis this year, an estimated 1 million people will come to the Twin Cities for the event and the days prior to the game.
“The Super Bowl will be a great event, but it’s important for anyone who’s out celebrating to have a sober game plan,” said Bruce Gordon, Department of Public Safety office of communications director.
A DWI offense can result in loss of license for one to six years, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time. Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order 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.
What follows are some things to remember throughout the year when it comes to DWI prevention:
• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab or public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration.
• Speak up – offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
• Buckle up — the best defense against a drunk driver.
• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide the location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.
Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) show 348 people died on Minnesota roads in 2017. These numbers may change, but this is the lowest number of fatalities in Minnesota since 1943 (274) and second lowest since 1926 (326).
Officers, deputies and troopers arrested 1,370 drivers for DWI during the Aug. 18-Sept. 3 extra enforcement period. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles – education, enforcement and prevention.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce deaths and serious injuries on Minnesota roads.
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety