The counties, including Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, St. Louis, Wright, Olmsted, Rice, Washington, Stearns, Sherburne, Scott and Carver in addition to Dakota, were chosen because they have the highest combined totals of alcohol-related traffic deaths and serious injuries and will be hot-spots for increased DWI enforcement through September. From 2008-2010, those counties combined for 202 alcohol-related deaths—nearly half of the entire state's as well as half of the state’s serious injuries, 462.
In that time period, Dakota County had 15 alcohol-related deaths and 42 alcohol-related injuries. The estimated cost of alcohol-related crashes in the country in the two-year time period is $21,089,000, according to DPS. There were 6,969 DWI arrests in the county in that time frame.
According to a release from DPS, however, "Minnesota alcohol-related fatalities, injuries and DWIs have dropped in recent years — there were 131 alcohol-related deaths in 2010, the lowest on record. Officials say enforcement and education is contributing to this positive trend. Still, each year alcohol-related crashes account for one-third of the state’s annual traffic death total."
"DWI enforcement and education are solid, necessary tools to address this ongoing issue," said Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving program coordinator. "But to really reduce impaired driving incidents, we need every Minnesotan to do their part to make sure they don’t take the risk."
High-visibility enforcement tactics, like electronic message board signs and heavy patrols, will be used to alert motorists of increased enforcement.
Consequences of a DWI can result in losing a license for up to a year, thousands of dollars and potential jail time.
DWI enforcement and education is a component of Toward Zero Deaths, TZD, the state’s core traffic safety 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," according to DPS. "TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response."