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Extra DWI patrols hit area roads Aug. 16-Sept. 2

Planning ahead for a sober ride now might be a good choice as the Two Harbors Police Department, Silver Bay Police Department, and Lake County Sheriff's Office plan to crack down on drunk drivers during a stepped-up statewide and nationwide DWI enforcement effort, Aug. 16-Sept 2. The statewide campaign is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.

Four drunk driving deaths, 183 DWI arrests in Lake County in last three years

Each year in Minnesota, nearly 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI. There were 68 DWI arrests in Lake County in 2012. During the last three years (2010-2012), 336 people were killed in drunken driving crashes in Minnesota -- 104 were killed in 2012 alone. In Lake County during the last three years, drunk driving resulted in 4 deaths.

"Drinking and driving is always a bad idea, so the best course of action is to plan ahead for a sober ride" says Officer Nathan Gens. "Enforcement periods like this serve as a reminder to those who still don't realize the risks and dangers of driving drunk.

DWI consequences are costly

A DWI offense can result in loss of driver's license for up to a year, thousands 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. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

Tips to Prevent Drunk Driving

· Plan for a safe ride -- designate a sober driver, use a cab or public transportation or stay at the location of the celebration.

· Offer to be a designated driver, or be available to pick-up a loved one anytime, anywhere.

· Buckle up- it's the best defense against a drunk driver.

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

Buckle up for safety

Area law enforcement is also encouraging seat belt use during the campaign. Each year 75 percent of drinking drivers killed are also not belted. Minnesota's primary seat belt law requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions -- including the back seat -- to be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement will stop and ticket unbelted drivers and passengers.

The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of the state's Toward Zero Death initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota, one 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 trauma response.

For more information, call Officer Cavallin at the Two Harbors Police Department 218-834-5566