A holiday beer with a friend. A glass of wine at a family member’s home. One shot for the road. A drink here or there can seem insignificant, but one drink can affect a driver’s judgment. This holiday season, give the gift of life by choosing a sober ride every time you decide to have even one drink.

To help keep families together this holiday season, Goodhue County law enforcement will participate in a statewide extra DWI enforcement campaign running on weekends starting Nov. 27 through Dec. 28.

Planning ahead

Motorists need to plan ahead for sober rides even when traveling to friends and family’s homes for the holidays, not just when going to the bars.

• From 2014-18, 35 people died in drunk driving-related crashes during the holiday DWI extra enforcement period.

• Christmas ranks high in the percentage of drunk driving-related fatalities (23.3 percent) during holidays, behind Labor Day (29.6 percent) and Halloween (26.7 percent) (2013-17).

• Nearly one out of every four deaths on Minnesota roads is drunk driving-related.

• In the last five years (2014-18), there were 412 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota, with 84 people killed in 2018 alone.

• Alcohol-related crashes not only take lives, they change them forever. An average of 331 life-changing injuries (2014-18) are caused by alcohol-related crashes each year.

The choice is yours

The decision to get behind the wheel after drinking is costing too many people their lives. The choice to drive drunk has contributed to 28 deaths on Minnesota roads from the day before Thanksgiving through Dec. 30 (2012-17). From the day before Thanksgiving to Dec. 30, from 2013 to 2017 there were a total of 12,490 arrests of holiday DWIs. Year-round, there are a total of 126, 512 arrests.

Blackout Wednesday dangers

Blackout Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) is traditionally associated with a night of binge drinking. Many college students are returning home for a night of celebrating with friends and with no work on Thursday, many adults get together after a short work-week.

DWI consequences

• Loss of license for up to a year, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time.

• Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver’s license.

• First-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above are required to use interlock for one year.

• Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

Speak Up and Plan a Sober Ride

• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, or stay at the location of the celebration.

• Speak up – Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.

• Buckle up — the best defense against a drunk driver.

• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

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