DWI enforcement campaign in county brings 97 arrests

Anoka County Sheriff’s deputies along with officers from Anoka, Blaine, Centennial Lakes, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Lino Lakes, Ramsey, Spring Lake Park and St. Francis police departments arrested 97 drunk drivers during a nationwide end-of-summer DWI enforcement effort, Aug. 17–Sept. 3.

Around 400 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota participated in the state’s effort conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

Each year in Minnesota, nearly 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI — there were 1,445 arrests in Anoka 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 1,200 total deaths.

In Anoka County during this period, drunk driving resulted in 12 deaths.

“The many arrests from the campaign demonstrated that people are still making poor choices and putting roads in danger,” said Lt. Shelly Orlando, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

“We can make progress and advance the fight against drunk driving by taking simple, preventable steps, and step one is to always 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, according to Orlando.

Certain DWI offenders are also eligible to use ignition interlock, Orlando said.

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, she said.

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, Orlando said.

Users must provide a breath sample into the interlock with an alcohol concentration below 0.02 in order for the vehicle to start, she said.

Extra DWI patrols will continue in Anoka County, which is among the top 13 counties in Minnesota for alcohol-related deaths and serious injuries, according to Orlando.

Anoka County encourages people to utilize these safe driving behaviors, Orlando said.

• 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 each other know that they will be available to offer a safe ride home.

• Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear — the best defenses against an impaired driver.

• Report impaired 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.

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