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A sobering reminder of drinking and driving dangers

Learning from past mistakes can help motorists as Minnesota prepares to welcome Super Bowl fans from across the state, country and the world.

During the holiday DWI campaign that included extra enforcement from Nov. 22-Dec. 31, 2017, officers, deputies and troopers arrested 2,656 drivers for driving impaired compared with 2,407 DWI arrests during the same period in 2016. More than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota participated in the campaign conducted by the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety. Local agencies that participated were Cannon Falls Police Department, Goodhue County Sheriff's Office, Kenyon Police Department, State Patrol, Red Wing Police Department and Zumbrota Police Department. During this extra enforcement, Goodhue County agencies made 13 DUI arrests, issued 195 citations and made 24 other arrests.

The drunk driving arrests include:

• Fairmont Police Department: A driver arrested for DWI on Christmas Eve was arrested again on New Year's Eve for DWI. Both times she was driving on the wrong side of the road.

• Minnesota State Patrol (Mankato): More than two hours after a driver was arrested for DWI, his passenger was arrested for DWI in the same vehicle. He was driving to the St. James Police Department to pick up his friend.

• Minnesota State Patrol (Thief River Falls): One drunk driver was arrested while trying to pull another drunk driver out of a snowbank.

• Olmsted County Sheriff's Office: A driver was arrested after entering the Olmsted County Parks fishing area, hitting some rocks near the lake's edge and going airborne into the lake.

• Onamia Police Department: A driver was stopped for DWI while traveling with children ages 4 and 7 in the vehicle.

• Onamia Police Department: A woman who was going more than 100 mph and sideswiped another vehicle was arrested for DWI after a preliminary breath test of .36.

• St. Cloud Police Department: A driver who refused a breath test recorded a .24 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) the following day as he was about to appear before a judge.

"Nobody plans on getting behind the wheel and taking a life, but that's exactly what you are risking if you decide to drive after drinking," said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. "If you plan on drinking, make a sober game plan. The message is simple: before watching the Big Game or heading out to enjoy an evening that may include alcohol, plan ahead and line up a sober ride."

Highest BAC

During the campaign, 12 agencies reported a BAC of .35 or higher:

• Coon Rapids Police Department (.492)

• Woodbury Police Department (.42)

• Eagan Police Department (.41)

What's Your Sober Game Plan?

Super Bowl weekend is typically a challenging time on our roads with some people choosing to get behind the wheel after drinking. During a five year period (2011-2015), an average of 180 people were arrested for DWI during Super Bowl weekend. With the Big Game in Minneapolis this year, an estimated 1 million people will come to the Twin Cities for the event and the days prior to the game. "The Super Bowl will be a great event, but it's important for anyone who's out celebrating to have a sober game plan," said Bruce Gordon with the Department of Public Safety Office.

A DWI offense can result in loss of license for one to six years, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time. Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver's license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

Commit to a sober ride

• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab or public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration.

• 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 — the best defense against a drunk driver.

• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety is an anchoring partner of the state's Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.