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Thu, Sep 2nd, 2010
Posted in State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL - Heightened DWI enforcement efforts will surround Labor Day weekend, the seventh deadliest weekend of the year for alcohol-related deaths according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

Around 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies will conduct intense DWI enforcement through the weekend, accompanied by 10,000 agencies nationwide. In Minnesota during Labor Day weekends over the last three years (2007-2009), there were 13 traffic deaths of which five were alcohol-related. During this same period, 1,801 motorists were arrested for DWI.

Gov. Pawlenty has proclaimed Friday, September 3 as "Designate a Sober Driver Day" to encourage Minnesotans to always plan for a safe and sober ride.

"Think before you drink - avoid the shame, embarrassment and regret of a DWI," says Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol. "Poor choices such as impaired driving will put your life in a world of hurt."

DPS encourages Minnesotans to:

· Plan a safe way home before festivities begin - designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration.

· Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear - the best defenses against an impaired driver.

· Report impaired driving - Call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior (swerving, travelling too slowly). Witnesses must be prepared to offer location, license plate and observed dangerous behavior.

Last year in Minnesota, there were 141 alcohol-related traffic deaths and 279 severe injuries. In Minnesota, one in seven drivers has a DWI on record, and each year more than 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI. Consequences for a DWI include loss of license for up to a year, up to $20,000 in legal costs and heightened insurance rates, and possible jail time.

Arrest results from the DWI campaign that started August 20 will be available in mid-September. A similar statewide DWI enforcement effort in 2009 resulted in 1,873 arrests.

The DWI enforcement is a component of the state's core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes - education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response. The goal of the program is 400 or fewer deaths by the end of 2010. To-date, there have been 265 traffic deaths in Minnesota.

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