Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We all know the dangers of drinking and driving. And yet every year on the holidays, we’re reminded to find a safe ride home.
The message rang loud and clear on New Year’s Eve. The State Patrol said it arrested 25 people last night for drunk driving. That’s up just a bit from last year’s tally of 20 arrests.
The State Patrol believes its awareness campaign and other factors have people being more responsible when it comes to drinking and driving. The numbers are preliminary, but they still feel good news for the Minnesota State Patrol.
“We had 25 DUI arrests overnight. That’s from 6pm last night to 8 am this morning,” Minnesota State Patrol’s Lt. Eric Roeske said.
There was one fatal crash on Highway 12 outside Deer River on Monday afternoon. It’s not known yet if alcohol was involved. If it wasn’t, that means for the past five New Year’s Eve holidays there have been zero alcohol-related crashes on Minnesota highways and interstates.
“New Year’s Eve has sort of evolved a bit. A lot more people stay at home,” Roeske said.
Roeske says it’s not clear to what extent the Minnesota State Patrol can take credit for the increase in drunk driver awareness and the decrease in the number of people arrested, hurt or killed because of impaired driving.
“It’s difficult to ascertain what we prevent,” he said.
But there are those who say the State Patrol’s campaign works. Others say weather is a likely factor.
“It was pretty cold last night we didn’t go out at all and when we did it was just to the cab door,” said Bryan.
Others have personal reasons for being responsible.
“I actually had a friend who passed away from a drunk driving accident,” said Kelsey. “So for me personally, I just like to be safe so I don’t have to be in that situation again.”
From free rides on buses and trains to cab rides and designated drivers, the State Patrol is happy people are listening, watching and reacting to the efforts of a lot of different agencies to save lives.
The State Patrol will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to saturate the state to keep an eye out for impaired drivers. Tuesday night is going to be one of those nights, so be aware that extra enforcement will be out.