Before you chug that first green beer, swallow this: extra DWI patrols will be on the roads on St. Patrick’s Day to prevent alcohol-related crashes, according to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety officials are especially concerned as the holiday falls on a Saturday. The last time that occurred (2007), 527 motorists were arrested for DWI and all three traffic deaths were alcohol-related. In a typical weekend in Minnesota, 170 motorists are arrested for DWI.
“St. Patrick’s is an all-day drinking event for many, which means roads are risky all day,” says Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol.
Deadliest Holiday Periods (two-day data) for Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths, 2006–2010
1. Fourth of July — 13 alcohol-related deaths (23 total deaths); 1,540 DWIs.
2. St. Patrick’s Day — Seven alcohol-related deaths (16 total deaths); 1,599 DWIs.
3. Halloween “party weekends” — Seven alcohol-related deaths (13 total deaths); 1,830 DWIs.
4. Memorial Day — Six alcohol-related deaths (13 total deaths); 1,249 DWIs.
While alcohol-related deaths factored in nearly half of St. Patrick’s Day deaths during this five-year period, the holiday has been safer in recent years when the holiday fell on a weekday — seven deaths and only one alcohol-related during 2008–2010.
Officials say this drop could be attributed to the holiday falling on weekdays, but it also may be connected to the recent trend of fewer alcohol-related deaths and DWIs in Minnesota. In 2010, there were 131 alcohol-related deaths in Minnesota, the lowest on record. Still, these crashes account for one-third of the state’s total annual deaths.
The enforcement effort is supported by an advertising campaign using TV (the holiday-specific spot, “O’Busted”), online and billboards. On Saturday evening, DPS will post DWI arrests updates on digital billboards. On social media, DPS (@MnDPS_OTS) will be using the hashtag #DesignateODriver.
To-date in 2012, there have been 63 traffic deaths, up 54 percent from the 41 deaths at this time 2011.
DWI enforcement and education is a component of the state’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD).
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