Fewer Minnesotans have been drinking and driving in the course of their New Year celebrations, public safety officials say.
For the past two years, there have been no alcohol-related deaths on New Year's Eve or Day. And for the past five years, alcohol-related driving deaths and serious injuries are down compared to the previous five years. Public safety officials hope the positive trend continues this year.
Increased enforcement is a big factor in the decline in drunk driving deaths and injuries, but police need the help of citizens, public safety spokesman Nathan Bowie said.
The DPS encourages Minnesotans to designate a sober driver, use a cab or public transportation, or stay put at a celebration.
"Law enforcement can't prevent impaired driving alone," Bowie said. "So, we're asking people to plan ahead for a safe and sober ride and also report impaired driving. If you see someone on the road who seems to be impaired, find a safe place to call 911.
There were 131 alcohol-related deaths in 2010 — a record low. But nearly 30,000 motorists were arrested for drunk driving. And one in seven Minnesota drivers has a DWI on record.
A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year and possible jail time.