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Officers to cast DWI enforcement net over fishing opener

ST. PAUL -- Extra DWI enforcement surrounding the fishing opener weekend will serve as a kick-off to enhanced summer DWI patrols in Minnesota's 13 deadliest counties for impaired driving.

Operation NightCAP (nighttime concentrated alcohol patrol) activity is over and above ongoing, regular traffic enforcement. During 2005-2007 in June, July and August there were 476 traffic deaths and 186 (39 percent) were alcohol-related. Another 31,000 motorists were arrested during that same period.

The extra enforcement follows a busy April for NightCAP efforts that tallied 158 DWI arrests, 935 traffic- and equipment-related citations and 41 seat belt non-use citations.

"The fishing opener launches the summer cabin season in Minnesota," said Jean Ryan, impaired driving program coordinator at the Department of Public Safety. "As more motorists take to the roads and as impaired driving increases, law enforcement efforts will ramp up to stop impaired driving and prevent these preventable tragedies."

Since fall 2008, NightCAP efforts have generated 1,054 DWI arrests in the 13 deadliest counties for alcohol-related crashes: Anoka, Blue Earth, Crow Wing, Dakota, Hennepin, Itasca, Ramsey, Rice, St. Louis, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington and Wright. During 2005-2007, these counties accounted for more than half of the state's alcohol-related deaths (272) and serious injuries (663).

State officials also stress road safety during the high-traffic fishing opener weekend:

• Buckle up.

• Pay attention -- minimize distractions such as cell phone use, eating and drinking.

• Drive at safe speeds and be patient -- leave enough travel time in advance to avoid the urge to speed.

• Watch and move over for emergency responders and roadside workers and on the shoulder.

• Plan your trip accordingly by visiting or calling 5-1-1 for the latest statewide traffic, construction, weather and travel information.

Mn/DOT Traffic Update:

To accommodate increased traffic volumes, Mn/DOT will suspend roadwork on Hwy. 6 and Hwy. 210 in the Deerwood area and Hwy. 10 from Wadena to Staples. All lanes will be open to traffic for the weekend on Friday afternoon, May 8.