The Minnesota Department of Public Safety will be increasing its DWI enforcement in Washington County starting today.
The DPS will be focusing on the state's 13 counties with the highest combined totals of drunk driving traffic deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries, according to a release from the DPS Office of Traffic Safety.
Extra DWI patrols will continue in the 13 counties through September 2013 as part of a 12-month, federally funded enforcement program.
These 13 counties accounted for nearly half of the state’s drunk driving deaths (160) and more than half of the state’s alcohol-related serious injuries (436) during 2009–2011:
- St. Louis
- Otter Tail
New to the 13 counties list are Becker, Meeker and Otter Tail counties; taken off the list from 2012 enforcement are Carver, Rice and Scott counties. The 13 counties are determined by their total number of drunk driving deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries during a three-year period, according to the DPS.
Wayne Sandberg, deputy director of the Washington County Public Works Department, said that Washington County is almost always on the list since it has one of the larger populations.
"There are more people in Washington County, so statistically you will see more drunk driving and crashes," Sandberg said. "But this is still a concern for us."
According to the DPS, agencies in the 13 counties will use high-visibility enforcement tactics to alert motorists of increased enforcement — including electronic message board signage and heavy patrols along specific corridors. Advertising will accompany the enforcement to encourage Minnesotans to avoid driving impaired.
Sandberg added that while the Washington County Sheriff's Office and State Department of Public Safety focus on enforcement, the county's public works department focuses on how to design the safest roads for people to drive on — no matter the state they are driving in.
"It's an important issue to look at as a society," Sandberg said. "Our goal is to make sure everyone gets home safely."