MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Drivers should expect to see more officers out on the roads searching for drunk drivers beginning this weekend.
From Aug. 16 through Sept. 1, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety will increase DWI enforcement and highlight their education campaign.
According to the DPS, 279 people lost their lives in drunk-driving accidents in Minnesota from 2011 to 2013.
In 2013 alone, 81 people were killed.
The DPS says the trend has decreased overall in recent years, but even one death is too many.
Gov. Mark Dayton declared Thursday as a day to honor victims of drunk driving. Families showed Minnesota license plates with broken hearts on them, which people can purchase to help raise awareness on the roads.
The heart is encircled with the message “Remembering Victims of Impaired Drivers.”
Earl Conley lost his son, Austin, to a drunk driver in 2012. He says getting behind this cause is one of the ways he can try and move forward.
“I want the whole world to know that we exist, and we have been impacted by these unfortunate incidents that continue to occur,” Conley said.
Conley showed a picture of his son, and then held up a container of his ashes.
“This is what I have of him now,” he said. “All I have are his ashes.”
Beyond the fatalities, 2,300 people suffered injuries in alcohol-related crashes last year.
The broken heart license plates cost the same as other specialty plates ($10 extra), and have been available since 2010.