Law enforcement targeting impaired driversA historically dangerous weekend on Minnesota roads will see a marked increase in the number of law enforcement officers patrolling for drunken drivers.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
A historically dangerous weekend on Minnesota roads will see a marked increase in the number of law enforcement officers patrolling for drunken drivers.
Police in Red Wing and around Goodhue County will be targeting impaired drivers as part of a statewide Safe and Sober campaign.
Red Wing police Capt. Darold Glander said additional patrol officers have been scheduled since Thursday with a singular mission: stopping drunken drivers.
The local effort teams falls in line with a Department of Public Safety initiative targeting drunken drivers that began Aug. 20.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty proclaimed Friday "Designate a Sober Driver Day."
"Definitely plan for your occasion," Glander said Friday.
According to DPS figures, Labor Day weekend is the seventh-deadliest weekend of the year for alcohol related deaths.
Five people have been killed in alcohol-related crashes between 2007 and 2009, according to a county press release. Statewide, there were 141 alcohol-related traffic deaths and 279 severe injuries last year.
All of those are preventable deaths, said sheriff's Chief Deputy Scott McNurlin.
"The threat of impaired driving is still real," he said. "DWIs are still a significant social issue and issue for those that travel our roadways every day."
According to DPS figures, one in seven Minnesota drivers carries a DWI on their driving records.
The Safe and Sober campaign is augmented this year by another effort to keep officers safe on the road. Glander said there also will be increased enforcement of the Ted Foss law, which instructs motorists to move over for stopped emergency vehicles.
Between 2005 and 2009, the State Patrol issued 9,173 Ted Foss violation tickets. In that same span, at least 100 trooper vehicles were struck and 31 troopers were injured, according to public safety officials.
This year alone, 12 troopers have been struck, with four injured, according to the state.
Goodhue County law enforcement agencies began heightened Ted Foss enforcement Aug. 20, when 103 motorists were stopped during one stretch along Highway 52 between Hader and Pine Island.
Tuesday marked the 10-year anniversary of Ted Foss, the state trooper for whom the law was later named. A passing vehicle killed Foss, a Kenyon native, while he was making a traffic stop in Winona.
"Please, if you see the flashing lights, move over," said Kenyon police Chief Lee Sjolander.