The holidays are here. That means family gatherings, gifts and games and tables full of holiday foods. If alcohol is involved, planning for a safe ride will ensure a fun holiday season and not a lifetime of heartache because of a fatal crash.

Rice County law enforcement and state troopers will participate in a statewide DWI patrols campaign Wednesday, Nov. 24 through New Year’s Eve. They will look for drivers who appear impaired, whether by alcohol or other substances, including alcohol, cold medicine and prescription medicines.

“The pandemic has turned life upside down for many of us, and we’re now getting back to spending time with our loved ones,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Let’s make sure we are creating positive memories this holiday season by making smart choices behind the wheel. I don’t want to be a Grinch, but too many drivers are doing the opposite. A significant jump in traffic fatalities since the pandemic is causing so much tragedy. Make the decision to drive smart by planning a sober ride and not driving impaired under any substance.”

Drunken driving has contributed to 26 deaths on Minnesota roads from the day before Thanksgiving through Dec. 30 (2016-20).

More than one of every five deaths (21%) on Minnesota roads is drunken driving-related. There were 397 drunken driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota in the last five years, with 79 people killed in 2020 alone.

An average of 384 life-changing injuries (2016-20) are caused by alcohol-related crashes in Minnesota each year. Drugged driving incidents accounted for 6,269 incidents from 2011-15 compared to 12,883 from 2016-20. That’s a 106% increase over a five-year period.

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