Northfield police will participate with law enforcement statewide in an extra DWI enforcement campaign on weekends through Dec. 28.

“When people head to establishments, knowing they are going to drink, many plan ahead for a sober ride,” said Northfield Police Department Sgt. Kevin Tussing in a press release. “Unfortunately, a sober ride home from dinner at a family member or friend’s house is not always thought of as much as when people go to bars, but it’s just as important. As your guests arrive, ask them about their plans, and if they don’t have a plan, get them a ride home or offer them a bed for the night. It’s much better to lie in a bed than a coffin.”

Driving while intoxicated is considered a violation for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Police say the day before Thanksgiving is associated with binge drinking due to college students returning home to celebrate with friends.

The release states 35 people died in drunken-driving related crashes during the holiday DWI extra enforcement period from 2014-2018. Christmas is estimated to have a high percentage of drunken-driving related fatalities on a holiday (23.3), and nearly one out of every four deaths on Minnesota roads is related to drunken driving.

The release states there have been 412 drunken driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota, with 84 killed in 2018. In addition to fatalities, an average of 331 life-changing injuries were estimated to have taken place every year from 2014-18.

Police note those convicted of driving while intoxicated can lose their license for up to one year, incur thousands of dollars in costs and face possible jail time. Repeat DWI offenders, along with first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above, must use ignition interlock to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

Local agencies participating in the campaign include Dundas, Faribault and Lonsdale police departments along with the Rice County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol.

“The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths program,” the release states. “The Minnesota departments of Public Safety, Transportation and Health collaborate on improving traffic safety for all. 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. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma response.”

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