The holidays are filled with joy, happiness and time together with family and friends. Too often the joy turns to sorrow when a family is notified of a loved one’s tragic death on Minnesota roads due to someone driving impaired.

To help keep families together this holiday season, more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota have been teaming up to get impaired drivers off the road.

Officers, deputies and troopers statewide began an extra DWI enforcement campaign in November which continues through Dec. 29.

“As people host holiday parties, it’s crucial for everyone to have a plan before consuming alcohol,” said Mike Hanson, state office of traffic safety director. “As your guests arrive, ask them about their plans.”

If they don’t have a plan, get them a ride home or offer them a bed for the night. It’s much better to lie in a bed than a coffin or jail cell, added Hanson.

The decision to get behind the wheel after drinking is costing too many people their lives over the holiday season. The choice to drive drunk has contributed to 28 deaths on Minnesota roads from the day before Thanksgiving through Dec. 30 in the last five years (2012-17).

If you feel different, you drive different, whether it’s from alcohol, cold medicine, a prescription or any other drug. In the last 10 years, Minnesota has seen a significant increase in DWIs involving a controlled substance while alcohol offenses have declined over this same period.

Plan for a safe ride – designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option or stay at the location of the celebration. 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. Remember, the best defense against a drunk driver is to buckle up.

Report drunk driving – call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed behavior.

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Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety