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West Central Minn. law: Forecast calls for extra drunken driving patrols

WILLMAR — This holiday season, you don’t have to have yourself a merry little time in jail if you plan ahead for a sober ride.

Just in time for the holiday parties, officers from the Atwater, Benson and Willmar Police departments and the Kandiyohi and Swift county sheriff’s offices will increase drunken driving enforcement patrols as part of a statewide and nationwide Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over DWI enforcement effort in December.

The campaign is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety. The enhanced DWI enforcement and education campaigns are a component of the state’s Toward Zero Death (TZD) initiative.

Citizens are asked to use these tips to prevent drunk driving:

-       Plan for a safe ride by designating a sober driver, using a cab or public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration. Let family/friends know you are available to offer a safe ride home.

-       Buckle up, it’s the best defenses against a drunk driver.

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

In Kandiyohi and Swift counties between 2009 and 2011, just under 300 motorists were arrested for driving while impaired. In Minnesota during this period, 344 people were killed in drunken driving crashes. Each year in the state, around 30,000 people are arrested for DWI. DPS officials say enhanced DWI campaigns have helped to reduce drunk driving crashes by 40 percent from a decade ago.

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