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Editorial: No more 'one for the road'

Again and again people make the wrong choice. They have two, three, four drinks too many and then get behind the wheel.

In Minnesota, 41 percent — that's 2 out of every 5 people — arrested in 2015 on a DWI charge had at least one previous drunken driving conviction. The Department of Public Safety also reports that nearly 260,000 of the state's licensed drivers have more than one DWI on their record.

Things aren't better across the river. Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports that more than 448,600 drivers have at least one DUI on their record and another 405,000 have two or more convictions as of Dec. 31, 2015.

A comprehensive report in RiverTown Multimedia newspapers this week (links below) explores the reality of those numbers. Read it. Think about your choices and the choices your loved ones make — sometimes every day. Then apply what you learn and commit to making better choices.

RELATED: Chronic drunken drivers plague Minn., Wis. roads | Rural areas continue to see higher rates of impaired driving

States across the nation, not simply in the Midwest, have enacted tougher drunken-driving laws. Congress made that happen by setting the national illegal blood alcohol content threshold at .08 in 2000. The incentive for states to cooperate was actually more of a threat: Do it or lose federal transportation funds. Wisconsin dragged its feet, becoming the 43rd state to leave the .10 limit behind. Minnesota dug in its heels, lost 2 percent of federal funding in 2004, then went along starting Aug. 1, 2005.

The lower blood alcohol content law means that even "one more for the road" is one too many.

In fact, one drunken driver on the road is one too many.

So we ask readers to commit to a sober ride:

• Plan ahead. That means you designate a sober driver, arrange to take a cab or use public transportation, or choose option 3: stay put for the night.

• Be that driver. Have fun without the alcohol

• Offer to act as cabby. Pick up a loved one or friend anytime, anywhere.

• Speak up. When you see an impaired person ready to get behind the wheel, take the keys and get the person a safe ride home.

• Buckle up each and every time. Your best defense against that impaired driver in another vehicle is to wear a seat belt.

Together we can make the right choice.

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