Whether it’s having fun on the boat or playing beach volleyball, it’s easy for a person to lose track of how much they’re drinking while out celebrating the final days of summer. That’s why if Minnesotans are planning to drink at all, it’s time to line up a sober driver.

    No longer does our society accept drunk drivers, and law enforcement in Crookston, Polk County and across Minnesota are ramping up efforts to get impaired motorists off the road through September 3. Officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies are working overtime with funding provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) coordinates the extra enforcement and education effort.

    “Learning from past mistakes is crucial. Unfortunately, too many drivers didn’t line up a sober ride during the winter holidays as more than 2,400 motorists statewide were arrested during the last DWI Extra Enforcement period,” said East Grand Forks Police Chief Michael Hedlund “This enforcement period, we want to remind people to make the right choice. A night in jail, losing your license or causing a fatal crash because you didn’t plan ahead is not worth it. Call a friend or loved one to get you home safely before it’s too late.”

    Why Labor Day is the most dangerous holiday period to be on the road with drunk drivers is something Minnesotans should all be asking and trying to change. In a five year period (2011-2015), four people were killed in drunk driving-related crashes with many more drunk drivers risking the lives of motorists.

    Holiday DWI Arrests per Hour (2012 – 2016)

    ·Labor Day – 4.6
    ·July 4 – 4.3
    ·St. Patrick’s Day – 4.2
    ·Memorial Day – 4.2
    ·Thanksgiving – 4.1
    ·New Year’s Eve – 3.9
    ·Super Bowl – 3.4
    ·Christmas – 2.8

    Preliminary numbers show there were 74 drunk driving-related fatalities last year compared with 95 in 2015, a 22 percent decrease.

DWI consequences

    ·Loss of license for up to a year, 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.

    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 location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.
    The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) program. 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 medical and trauma response.