Number of impaired driving deaths falls in 2013

Posted by HBC Newsdesk September 2, 2014

Impaired-related traffic fatalities in Minnesota dropped to 95 in 2013, a 9 percent decrease from 2012 when 104 people lost their lives. The Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts 2013 report released today reveals a continued downward trend in impaired-related traffic deaths after reaching a high of 222 in 1998.

Nearly 400 law enforcement agencies are participating in an enhanced enforcement campaign looking for drunk drivers from Aug. 16 through Labor Day, in hopes 2014 sees even fewer impaired-related traffic fatalities. Impaired-related refers to any driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.

“We want this steady decrease in impaired-related fatalities to continue because too many families are dealing with the devastating loss of a loved one,” said Donna Berger, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Most motorists make the smart decision to never mix drinking and driving. Please join the majority and plan ahead for a sober ride this holiday weekend. Your life and others sharing the road depend on it.”

The report details crashes and DWI incidences by factors such as age, county, conviction rate and recidivism. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety publishes the annual report for insight to help guide education and enforcement campaigns.

Deaths and Injuries
• Traffic crashes claimed the lives of 387 people and 95 (25 percent) died in impaired-related crashes.
• 2,300 people suffered injuries in alcohol-related crashes.
• From 2011 – 2013, there were 310 impaired-related traffic fatalities compared to 370 from 2008 – 2010.

Impaired Drivers
• In recent years, about 60 percent of all violators had no prior DWI arrests on record compared to 40 percent that did have prior citations.
• Out of the 25,719 motorists arrested for DWI in 2013, 15,264 (59 percent) were first time offenders.
• After getting a second DWI, a pattern of repeat arrests can follow with about half of those motorists receiving a third DWI and half of third-time offenders getting arrested a fourth time.
• The 20 – 34 year old age group represents 55 percent of impaired driving incidents.
• Males committed 73 percent of the impaired incidents.
• The number of drivers under 21 cited for having any alcohol in their blood has significantly dropped from 3,400 in 1999 to 687 in 2013.

Greater Minnesota Motorists at Risk
• Sixty (63 percent) of the 95 impaired-related traffic fatalities in 2013 occurred outside the Twin Cities’ metro in Greater Minnesota.
• Of all Minnesota residents, 596,170 (11 percent) have one or more impaired driving arrests on their record. The five counties with the highest percentages are north and west of the Twin Cities: Mahnomen (22.3 percent); Mille Lacs (17.1 percent); Cass (15.8 percent); Clearwater (15.4 percent); and Aitkin (15.3 percent).

A DWI offense can result in loss of a license for up to a year, thousands of dollars 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.

Drunk Driving Prevention and Safety
• Plan for a safe ride – designate a sober driver, use a cab/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 – the best defense 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.

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