Tri-state law enforcement beefs up DWI patrol
Law enforcement agencies in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota are patrolling extra hours for drunk driving enforcement from Aug. 21 to Sept. 7.
Representatives from multiple agencies met at the I-90 state line rest area Friday for a kick-off event, which included an address by Brad Bigler, survivor of a drunk driving crash that killed his 5-month old son, Drake, in 2012.
Bigler shared his powerful story, and said he hoped it would make an impact.
“Sometimes, if you have an emotional story and when you have people passionate about telling their story, I think it does have impact,” Bigler said, when asked if he felt his message was making a difference. “When they leave the gym, there are a lot of tears.”
Bigler said he and his father and father-in-law have reached more than 10,000 people, including high school students, and their message will soon go nationwide, thanks to a recent ESPN message.
Local law enforcement at Friday’s event included Dallas Hamm of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and Lt. Matt Sorenson and Trooper Lori Halsne of the Minnesota State Patrol.
They said they hoped to reinforce Bigler’s story and urge the public to prevent drunk driving.
Their message: The loss of a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver can have lifelong implications on the victims, their families and even the first responders. One decision can alter the lives of countless people.
Lt. Sorenson said he can’t stress this enough. “Not only do we have to enforce DWI laws, we’d like to educate the public and keep people from driving impaired,” Sorenson said. “Crashes caused by impaired driving affects the lives of crash victims and their families forever.”
Hamm has been recognized for his DWI enforcement (the number of DWI arrests), but he said he’d rather prevent DWIs than arrest people.
“If you’re at a party, make sure everyone gets home safe,” Hamm said. “If you see a drunk driver, call it out. It’s always good to let us know.”
The tri-state DWI education and enforcement campaign is part of a national campaign coordinated by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Drunk driving numbers
More than 36,000 drivers are arrested for impaired driving in the three states each year. In 2014 Iowa State Patrol had 1,450 OWIs, South Dakota had 9,450 DUI and in Minnesota more than 25,000 motorists were arrested for DWI in 2014.
In the last five years (2010 – 2014), there were 1,215 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in the three states and 239 people were killed in 2014 alone.
“These are sad, tragic and preventable deaths,” said Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol. “And the fact is, if you’re driving drunk, it’s much better news if you’re stopped and arrested for DWI than causing a preventable tragedy.”
Prevent Drunk Driving
•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 dan