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THPD to incrase enforcement efforts for DWI and speeding this week

As part of an ongoing effort to increase safety on local roads, the Two Harbors Police Department has announced that it will be targeting St. Patrick's Day revelers on March 17 and increasing speed patrols March 18-22. These enforcement and education efforts are coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety as part of the Toward Zero Deaths initiative recently undertaken by the THPD. TZD strategies have been credited with reducing the number of traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads by 44% since 2003, said Two Harbors police officer, James Cavallin. The THPD is aiming for a greater reduction in that figure.

Since the St. Patrick's Day holiday falls on a Sunday, there is increased concern about the potential for party-goers to make a weekend of imbibing.

"Weekend-long events could make for a potentially dangerous situation on our roads," said Officer Ken Anderson. "If you're planning on drinking, also plan ahead for a sober ride." Failing to do so could have dire consequences. In the past five years, 651 people have lost their lives in crashes where alcohol was a factor. This number does not include those left behind to grieve the tragic losses.

A single DWI conviction can also cost thousands of dollars in fines and the loss of a driver's license for up to a year. Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested with an alcohol concentration level of 0.16, may be required to use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges, or face at least one year without a driver's license. Penalties increase dramatically for subsequent offenses.

Unsafe and illegal speed is the leading contributor to all fatal crashes, including four that occurred in Lake County and 254 traffic deaths throughout Minnesota during the years 2009-11, according to the THPD. Drivers who remain mindful of road conditions and speed stand a better chance of successfully responding to the unexpected or surviving a collision.

"By driving at safe speeds and obeying the posted speed limit, a person has more time to react to any number of obstacles that may appear in the roadway. Obeying the posted speed limit reduces the likelihood of a crash and reduces the severity of injuries if a crash does occur," said Cavallin.

In addition to jeopardizing the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians, unsafe and illegal speeds can negatively impact the family budget. In Lake County, the average citation for driving 10 mph over the speed limit is $125. At 20 mph over the limit, drivers face double the fine. Motorists ticketed for traveling at more than 100 mph can lose their licenses for six months.

Future TZD efforts will include numerous other "waves of enforcement," said Cavallin, including:

•April 5-14 -increased seat belt enforcement focusing on young drivers

•May 20-June 2 - "Click It or Ticket" month with increased seat belt enforcement

•June 17-23- increased speed enforcement

•July 6-21- increased speed enforcement

•Aug. 16-Sept. 2 -"Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" increased DWI enforcement