In Wright County, impaired driving remains a very serious problem. Wright County is the 10th deadliest county in the state for impaired driving crashes. Impaired driving accounted for about 30% of fatal crashes statewide last year, but in Wright County 66% of our fatal crashes involved alcohol. Due to the large number of impaired driving crashes Wright County qualifies for special federal funding for the most aggressive impaired driving enforcement programs. Additional law enforcement are provided special time to only look for impaired drivers, without responding to emergency (911) calls for service and patrol in areas where impaired drivers will most likely drive. Last year nearly 800 impaired driving convictions in Wright County. The next time you go to a bar, restaurant, sporting event or drive on any roadway in Wright County, for every eight people you see, one of them will have at least one impaired driving conviction on their record.
We know that the majority of impaired driving offenders are males; 76% in Minnesota in 2007, 67% of them between the ages of twenty and thirty-nine. There were over 37,000 impaired driving incidents that occurred in Minnesota last year. That’s a large (8%) increase from the prior year. About a half of those with a second violation each year will go on to offend a third time and about a half of those will violate a fourth time. And the pattern continues. The average blood alcohol content (BAC) of drivers convicted of impaired driving in Minnesota is nearly twice the legal limit of .08. The average BAC conviction in Minnesota has steadily declined from .164 in 1998 to .155 in 2007. Repeat offenders have always had a higher average BAC than first time offenders. In 2007 repeat offenders had an average BAC of .166 to the first time offenders' .150. These averages did not change significantly since lowering the legal limit from .10 to .08 in August 2006.
The number of underage drinking and driving convictions in Minnesota is frightening. In 2005, there were 3,462 motorists convicted of DWI who were under the legal drinking age of 21. Of those, five were age 14 and under, 134 were 15 or 16 years of age. Underage impaired driving is especially tragic because younger drivers are inexperienced drivers, take more risks while driving and are least likely to wear life-saving seat belts. Studies have shown that older siblings and friends are most likely sources of alcohol for underage people. Some parents feel that it's better to supply their teens with alcohol at home parties and "supervise" them believing that they will drink regardless. The idea of teens drinking in their own home is somehow more safe to some parents who think they can control the drinking if it is done under their own roof. Minnesota law does not support parent-hosted alcohol parties. In the last few years several laws have been enacted to combat underage drinking and driving. It is illegal for parents to host such parties and Minnesota law allows any person injured by an intoxicated person under age 21 the right to sue the host/supplier, giving the injured party the right of civil third-party liability action for damages, excluding homeowner's insurance coverage. The best prevention for impaired driving is having a plan prior to the consumption of alcohol. If each and every one of us designated a sober driver before heading out for a club, friend's house, sporting or other event, or out to dinner we could save more than 250 lives each year in Minnesota. Impaired driving is 100% preventable.
WEAR A SEAT BELT :
Seat belts save lives. Every person should buckle up in every seat every time.
DRIVE THE SPEED LIMIT :
Drive safe, drive smart, and drive the speed limit.
CONCENTRATE ON DRIVING :
Crashes aren't accidents. Pay attention always!
DRIVE SOBER :
Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Impairment begins with the first drink. Never drive drunk or get into a vehicle with a drunk driver!
Traffic laws change. What you learned in driver’s education may be different than the laws on the road today. Find out the most current driving rules and regulations in the latest edition of the MN Driver’s License Manual