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Extra DWI enforcement to be on Minnesota roads during the holidays

Nov 27, 2020 06:12AM ● By Editor
Photo: KSTP-TV

By Josh Skluzacek of KSTP-TV Eyewitness News - November 26, 2020 

Minnesota officials are urging people to be safe during the holidays and plan ahead if you're planning to drink.

Photo: KSTP-TV

By Josh Skluzacek of KSTP-TV Eyewitness News - November 26, 2020 

While the holidays will look very different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota has seen a climb in traffic fatalities this year, partly due to impaired driving, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) said.

The state will have extra law enforcement on the roads from Nov. 25 through the end of the year as part of its DWI enforcement campaign.

"The pandemic is relentless, spreading among our friends and families, and stressing our healthcare resources," Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director, said. "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."

Amid the coronavirus surge in Minnesota, hospitals are also struggling to keep up and driving smart is one way to help them out.

"As a Level 1 Trauma Center, we specialize in delivering the highest quality care to victims of traumatic life-threatening injuries. This year, the entire healthcare system is facing a demanding new challenge with COVID-19," Nicholas Simpson, MD, Emergency Physician at Hennepin Healthcare and Medical Director of Hennepin EMS, said. "Hospitals throughout the country are increasingly full due to the pandemic. The number of patients is rising rapidly and the healthcare system is incredibly strained right now. Unfortunately, the state’s trauma centers are not immune to these issues. We all need to do our part to combat COVID-19. This includes wearing a mask, following the recommendations from CDC, and Gov. Walz. Your safety on the road plays an important part as well. Wear your seat belt. Please don’t text while driving. Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Stay safe Minnesota. We’re all in this together."

DPS says 28 people have died in drunk driving-related crashes during the holidays the past five years, with Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July tied for the highest percentage of drunk driving-related fatalities.

The department also noted that anyone who doesn't plan ahead for a sober ride may end up behind bars and not at the holiday table, which can also cost them their driver's license for up to a year on top of thousands of dollars in costs.

Below are recommendations from DPS for Minnesotans this holiday season:

  • Plan for a safe ride — No matter where you plan to drink, designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, or stay at the location of the celebration. 
    • With bars and restaurants closed due to COVID-19, many people will decide to drink at home. The same rules apply, make sure you designated a sober driver or crash on a couch, not in a vehicle, if you're leaving family gatherings. 
  • 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 — wearing a seat belt is the best defense against an impaired driver. 
  • Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

To read the original post and see related articles, follow this link to the KSTP-TV website.
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