Minneapolis Police will conduct extra DWI patrols in December

In an effort to combat the serious threat of impaired driving on Minneapolis roads, the Minneapolis Police Department and Minneapolis Park Police will conduct extra DWI patrols as part of a Minnesota wide crackdown throughout December. The timing of the effort is relevant as December is among the deadliest months for alcohol-related crashes and DWI arrests.

The enforcement campaign includes participation from 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies, all deploying extra officers to work overtime hours targeting impaired drivers. A DWI arrest typically results in loss of license for at least 90 days and cost up to $20,000 when factoring in increased insurance costs, legal and other fees. There are more than 500,000 Minnesotans with a DWI on record; translating to one in eight Minnesota drivers.

Each year, alcohol-related crashes account for up to 200 traffic deaths and nearly 400 serious injuries. These crashes and fatalities have been declining in recent years, and the Minneapolis Police Department says enhanced DWI enforcement campaigns have been a major factor in Minnesota’s continuing trend of lower alcohol-related traffic deaths. In 2008 there were 163 deaths, a record low, with 24 in Hennepin County. Despite the drop in alcohol-related deaths, drinking and driving crashes still account for more than one-third of all traffic deaths annually which is typical for each year.

The Minneapolis Police Department says a major factor for a large percentage of alcohol-related deaths is seat belt use. Each year around 75 percent of the impaired drivers killed in crashes are not belted. According to the MPD, the state’s primary seat belt law will help officers stop impaired drivers before they do harm to others or themselves.

During 2006–2008 in Hennepin County, there were 51 alcohol-related deaths of which 19 of the persons killed were unbelted. Statewide during this same period there were 394 alcohol-related deaths of which 256 were unbelted.

The primary seat belt law became effective in June 2009. Drivers and passengers in any seat, even in the back, must be belted or in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement will stop and ticket motorists and passengers for belt violations. Seatbelt fines are more than $100.

In the last three years on Minnesota roads, alcohol-related crashes accounted for 519 traffic deaths and 1,159 serious injuries. During this same period 116,515 motorists were arrested for DWI. In Hennepin County from 2006–2008, there were 51 impaired driving deaths, 124 serious injuries and 23,891 DWI arrests. The local economic impact of alcohol-related fatalities was estimated at $69,840,000.

The DWI enforcement is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and administered by the MN Department of Public Safety. The campaign is a component of the states cornerstone traffic safety platform, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). TZD uses a multidisciplinary approach to reduce crashes, fatalities and injuries through enhanced enforcement, improved engineering, educational outreach and efficient emergency trauma response.

Published Dec. 2, 2009