Law enforcement officers hope Minnesotans will get through this Thanksgiving holiday weekend without a DWI.
More than 300 agencies across the state are stepping up their DWI patrols, knowing Thanksgiving is the worst holiday for drunken driving in Minnesota.
According to Minnesota Department of Public Safety figures, DWI-related driving deaths are 53 percent higher over the Thanksgiving period compared to non-holiday times of the year.
And with Christmas seeing the second most DWI-related deaths, the enhanced DWI enforcement starts Wednesday and will continue over weekends for the next six weeks, ending on Jan. 2.
Last year, 25,258 motorists – 70 a day – were arrested in Minnesota for drunken driving, and alcohol is a factor for one in every four deaths on Minnesota's roads.
The DPS launched its annual DWI drive alongside Courtney Pogones, of Austin, Minnesota.
She was joined by Craig Barnd, who was drunk behind the wheel in a crash that killed Pogones' mother, Nancy Robling, in 2002, as they both pleaded with drivers to think twice before traveling home drunk.
"My life has gone on, but it’s never been the same," Pogones said. "I don’t want another little girl to go through life without her mom because of one bad decision. That’s why I’m joining Craig today to say ‘enough is enough,’ and to ask Minnesotans to pledge to drive sober, today and every day."
Said Barnd: "I took a life because I chose a drink over a sober ride. It’s easy to think ‘I’ve done this before. I’ll be OK.’ That used to be me until my choices caught up with me in the worst way. I want to do what I can to keep others from traveling that same path and living with a lifetime of regret and sadness. Please don’t let this happen to you."