Stepped-up DWI enforcement in county for JulyLaw enforcement officers from Woodbury, Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, Oakdale, Bayport, Oak Park Heights, Stillwater and St. Paul Park, along with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, will increase DWI patrols in July.
By: Special to the Bulletin, Woodbury Bulletin
Law enforcement officers from the cities of Woodbury, Cottage Grove, Forest Lake, Oakdale, Bayport, Oak Park Heights, Stillwater and St. Paul Park, along with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, will increase DWI patrols in July, one of the deadliest periods for impaired driving in Minnesota.
The statewide impaired driving enforcement sweep covers the Fourth of July holiday weekend and will include participation from more than 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies. The state Department of Public Safety (DPS) coordinates the Safe & Sober campaign.
Over the last three years (2004–2006) in July, 67 motorists were killed in alcohol-related crashes and more than 10,000 were arrested for DWI.
“An effective route to stop impaired driving is through extra enforcement,” said Sgt. Curt Zacharias. “Law enforcement is serious about taking impaired drivers off the road, and we need citizens to be serious about planning ahead for safe rides to avoid drinking and driving.”
In Minnesota, over 500,395 motorists have a DWI — one in eight with a driver’s record. A DWI can cost up to $20,000 when factoring in increased insurance cost rates, legal and other fees.
In the last three years on Minnesota roads, 540 motorists were killed in alcohol-related crashes and more than 113,000 were arrested for DWI. In Washington County during 2004–2006, there were 12 impaired driving deaths and 4,616 DWIs. The local economic impact of alcohol-related fatalities was $13,530,000.
Of the impaired drivers and their passengers killed in alcohol-related crashes, over 70 percent were not wearing seat belts.
“Crash data shows the 'booze bone' is connected to the 'no-belt bone,'” Zacharias said. “These two mistakes result in hundreds of deaths each year.”
Zacharias added officers will include seat belt enforcement during the nighttime DWI patrols to minimize risk of death or injury.
Young adults continue to be the primary violators of impaired driving. From 2004 to 2006, more than 32 percent of DWIs in Washington County were committed by motorists in their early 20s and those under the legal drinking age.
Sgt. Zacharias is encouraging the use of “Designated Driver Gift Certificates” — which can be sent via e-mail at www.minnesotasafeandsober.org.
The certificates can be sent to friends to offer a safe ride for a night out, and call for the recipient to return the favor.
Safe & Sober is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The program is designed to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.