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Expect increased DWI enforcement throughout July

The Carlton County Sheriff's Office along with area law enforcement will increase DWI patrols in July, one of the deadliest periods for impaired driving in Minnesota. The statewide impaired driving enforcement sweep covers the Fourth of July holi...

The Carlton County Sheriff's Office along with area law enforcement will increase DWI patrols in July, one of the deadliest periods for impaired driving in Minnesota. The statewide impaired driving enforcement sweep covers the Fourth of July holiday weekend and will include participation from more than 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies. The state Department of Public Safety (DPS) coordinates the "Safe & Sober" campaign.

Over the last three years (2004-2006) in July, 67 motorists were killed in alcohol-related crashes and more than 10,000 were arrested for DWI.

"An effective route to stop impaired driving is through extra enforcement," said Deputy Dan Danielson. "Law enforcement is serious about taking impaired drivers off the road, and we need citizens to be serious about planning ahead for safe rides to avoid drinking and driving."

In Minnesota, over 500,395 motorists have a DWI - one in eight with a driver's record. A DWI can cost up to $20,000 when factoring in increased insurance cost rates, legal and other fees.

In the last three years on Minnesota roads, 540 motorists were killed in alcohol-related crashes and more than 113,000 were arrested for DWI. In Carlton County during 2004-2006, there were three impaired driving deaths and 1,157 DWIs. The local economic impact of alcohol-related fatalities was $3,420,000.

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Of the impaired drivers and their passengers killed in alcohol-related crashes, over 70 percent were not wearing seat belts.

"Crash data shows the booze bone is connected to the no-belt bone," said Danielson. "These two mistakes result in hundreds of deaths each year."

Danielson also said officers will include seat belt enforcement during the nighttime DWI patrols to minimize risk of death or injury.

Young adults continue to be the primary violators of impaired driving. From 2004-2006, around 30 percent of DWIs in Carlton County were committed by motorists in their early 20s and those under the legal drinking age.

Carlton County is encouraging the use of "Designated Driver Gift Certificates," which can be sent via e-mail at www.minnesotasafeandsober.org . The certificates can be sent to friends to offer a safe ride for a night out, and call for the recipient to return the favor.

"Safe & Sober" is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The program is designed to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.

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