2018 ended on a rather disappointing note in Rice County.

During a six-week DWI enforcement wave that ran from just before Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, 16 drivers were charged in Rice County with driving while impaired. That’s five more than during the same time period in 2017, according to figures provided by local law enforcement.

Worst of all, two area men were critically injured in a Dec. 23 crash just south of Faribault in which alcohol use is a suspected cause. According to a search warrant seeking a blood or urine sample from the driver, law enforcement found him in the wrecked vehicle smelling of alcohol and with an open can of beer underneath him.

In early 2018 we reported that late 2017 arrests for drunken driving by county law enforcement included some extremely impaired drivers. Four drivers had a blood alcohol content of .17 to .25 percent. Dundas Police arrested one driver with a .39 percent BAC; Northfield pulled another who recorded a .375, and even that wasn’t the highest in the state.

This time around the percentages weren’t as startling, but the larger total is disturbing.

There’s no excuse for drinking and driving. The state’s DWI laws are well publicized. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the state’s Toward Zero Deaths campaign and driver’s education instructors make sure every driver know the restrictions and consequences of impaired driving.

Finding a ride is simple. Northfield and Faribault have cab companies ready to take home area residents who shouldn’t be behind the wheel. For those living in rural areas: plan ahead. Ensuring you’ve got a sober driver really is a no brainer.

We’ve seen the results of drunken driving, and for far too many it’s an ugly and painful picture. Drunken driving is costly, and not just monetarily.

Monday, in a Le Sueur County courtroom, a young Wisconsin widow faced the man whose drunken driving killed his best friend, her 26-year-old husband.

Her life, she said through tears, “is shattered.” But telling her 6-year-old that his father was dead was the worst.

“His screams,” she said, “will haunt me forever.”

Editorials are the opinion of the editorial board: Faribault Daily News and Northfield News Publisher Chad Hjellming, Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook and Associate Editor Philip Weyhe.

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy

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