Avoid the twinkling lights in your rear-view mirror this holiday seasonA statewide impaired driving enforcement sweep began Dec. 4 and runs through the holiday season — one of the deadliest months for alcohol-related crashes.
By: Special to the Bulletin, Woodbury Bulletin
A statewide impaired driving enforcement sweep began Dec. 4 and runs through the holiday season — one of the deadliest months for alcohol-related crashes.
During last year's holiday season, 138 people were arrested for DWI in Washington County. Officers will be out in force once again to gift-wrap safe roads this holiday.
As the holiday season kicks into gear, shoppers are out looking for deals and most Minnesotans are attending holiday parties and celebrating with friends and family.
A DWI can cost up to $20,000 when factoring in increased insurance costs, legal and other fees.
"That’s an expense people don’t budget for over the holiday season, and a surprise you don’t want” said Sgt. Paul Hoppe of Oak Park Heights Police Deptartment.
With the increase of holiday celebrations, speeding, alcohol, inattentive driving, road and weather conditions comes an increase in traffic-related crashes.
In the last three years on Minnesota roads, alcohol-related crashes accounted for 553 traffic deaths and 1,253 serious injuries.
During this same period 117,764 motorists were arrested for DWI state wide. In Washington County, there were 15 impaired driving deaths, 22 serious injuries and 4,646 DWI arrest during 2005-2007.
“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, are serious about maintaining safe roadways as people celebrate this holiday season," Hoppe said. "And we need citizens to be serious about planning ahead for safe rides and avoid the repercussions of drinking and driving.”
Officers throughout Washington County encourage the use of “Designated Driver Gift Certificates” – which can be sent to friends or family via e-mail at www.minnesotasafeandsober.org.
The certificates offer a safe ride home for a night out and calls for the recipient to return the favor.
“Every good holiday party starts with good preparation. Be prepared this holiday season and arrange for a ride home before you head out," Hoppe said. "It could be the difference between making your next gathering or not.”
Safe & Sober is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and administered by the Department of Public Safety. This program is designed to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.