Editor's Note: The following is a press release written by Sgt. Matt Steen.
If you plan on partying, now is the time to plan ahead for a sober ride. Richfield Police will crack down on drunk drivers during a stepped-up statewide and nationwide DWI enforcement effort, August 17–Sept. 3. The statewide campaign is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
Local agencies participating are: Airport, Edina, and Richfield Police Departments.
Each year in Minnesota, nearly 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI — there were 6,769 arrests in Hennepin County in 2011. During the last three years in the state, 2009–2011, 344 people were killed in drunk driving crashes — nearly one-third of the state’s 1,200 total deaths. In Hennepin County during this period, drunk driving resulted in 129 deaths.
“Drunk driving is a deadly problem that continues to haunt our highways,” says Sergeant Matt Steen. “The added patrols aim to remind motorists to avoid the risk and dangers of driving drunk and plan ahead for a sober ride.”
A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.
Certain DWI offenders are also eligible to use ignition interlock. Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use 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 install interlock and use for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges. Users must provide a breath sample into the interlock with an alcohol concentration below 0.02 in order for the vehicle to start.
Richfield Officers are also encouraging seat belt use during the campaign. Each year 75 percent of drinking drivers killed are also not belted. Minnesota’s primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions — including the back seat — to be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement will stop and ticket unbelted drivers and passengers.
Richfield Police encourages people to utilize these safe driving behaviors:
- Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration. Families should let loved ones know that they will be available to offer a safe ride home.
- Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear — the best defenses against a drunk driver.
- Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Witnesses must be prepared to provide location, license plate and observed dangerous behavior.
The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Death (TZD) initiative. 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 trauma response.