Better watch out: Extra DWI patrols on the lookout for holiday partiers

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The holiday season is beginning, and with it comes the annual warning about impaired driving after parties and celebrations that involve alcohol. If you plan to indulge, make sure your plans also involve a designated driver or a cab, authorities say.

Around the state, law enforcement officers plan stepped-up patrols to keep roadways safe. The Star Tribune reports extra patrols will focus on the 25 Minnesota counties that have recorded the highest number of deaths and serious injuries in alcohol-related crashes over the past year. The story notes that the top five counties are Hennepin, Anoka, Ramsey, St. Louis and Dakota.

Enforcement will be expanded in rural counties as well. For example, in northern Minnesota the Hubbard County Sheriffs Office and the Park Rapids Police Department are letting citizens know that officers will add extra DWI enforcement.

According to a State Patrol press release, the extra enforcement will run every weekend from Nov. 26 through Dec. 27.

Two people were killed and 17 suffered severe injuries in drunk driving crashes during the Thanksgiving weekend from 2011-2013.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving organized a ceremony to remember what's at stake in the effort to curb impaired driving. On Sunday night, members of the Minnesota chapter of MADD held a vigil to remember those lost in drunken driving crashes.

WCCO reports that a solemn ceremony, held at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, used a candle-lighting ritual to remember those lost in traffic crashes where alcohol was a mitigating factor. According to the advocacy group, 81 people were killed in drunken driving crashes last year in Minnesota, and another 2,300 were injured in those accidents.

“This is a hard time of year for people who have lost someone. Holidays are typically a time of celebration and we have a lot of people who are facing an empty chair at their table this holiday season,” Jennifer Freeburg of MADD told the station.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, officers arrested 25,719 Minneosta motorists for DWI charges in 2013.

Earlier this month, a story published in the Fergus Falls Journal noted drunken driving is responsible for one out of every five traffic fatalities. As of Nov. 24, there have been 312 road crash deaths on Minnesota roads. Last year at this same time, there had been 334 traffic fatalities.

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