ST PAUL, Minn. — This holiday season, safety officials and law enforcement agencies across the state are putting some added focus on impaired driving.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced an extra DWI enforcement and awareness campaign starting Nov. 25 and running on weekends through Dec. 31.
While public safety agencies often focus on impaired driving around the holidays, DPS said there's an added threat this year: Health care systems are already strained by the pandemic.
DPS said officers, deputies and troopers across the state will participate in the extra enforcement campaign. Meanwhile, DPS's Office of Traffic Safety will coordinate the statewide awareness campaign and use of federal traffic safety funding.
“The pandemic is relentless, spreading among our friends and families, and stressing our healthcare resources,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “We cannot have impaired driving further compromising our critical medical capabilities for those who are truly in need. Plan a sober ride and stop the heartache and empty chairs at the holiday table.”
DPS said due to impaired driving, the holidays are a tragic time for many:
- During 2015 – 2019, 28 people died in drunk driving-related crashes during the holiday DWI extra enforcement period.
- Of the various holiday time periods throughout 2019, Thanksgiving and July 4 tied for the highest percentage of drunk driving-related fatalities.
- Nearly one out of every four deaths (22%) on Minnesota roads is drunk driving-related.
- In the last five years (2015 – 2019), there were 413 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota, with 89 people killed in 2019 alone.
With Minnesota's current COVID-19 restrictions, many Minnesotans will drink at home rather than at bars or restaurants. DPS said the same rules apply: If you're drinking, make sure to designate a sober driver or stay the night.