Forecast: a winter blast of extra DWI patrol

People enjoying the holiday season can avoid a merry little time in jail if they plan ahead for a sober ride.

The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office in cooperation with the Lakes Area Police Department, North Branch Police Department and the Wyoming Police Department will increase drunk driving enforcement during a statewide and nationwide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over DWI enforcement effort in December. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the campaign.

In Chisago County, 2009-2011, drunk-driving crashes accounted for five deaths and 13 serious injuries. During 2011 alone, there were 214 motorists arrested for DWI in Chisago County. In Minnesota during this period, 344 people were killed in drunk driving crashes. Each year in the state, around 30,000 people are arrested for DWI. DPS officials say enhanced DWI campaigns have helped to reduce drunk driving crashes by 40 percent from a decade ago.

Alcohol-related crashes, injuries and fatalities continue to be a serious problem in Minnesota.  Overall, males and young adults are overrepresented in alcohol-related crashes and account for a disproportionate share of fatalities.  More than one-half million Minnesotans with driver license records have a DWI.

“The holiday celebration season can be a potentially deadly one due to drunk driving,” Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan said. “Make plans for a safe and sober ride, or face the consequences.”

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

Tips to Prevent Drunk Driving

– Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration. Let family/friends know you are available to offer a safe ride home.

– Buckle up — the best defenses against a drunk driver.

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

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