Oakdale Police to target impaired drivers over holidays

Oakdale Police Department officers will patrol over the river and through the woods during a stepped-up impaired driving enforcement effort, Dec. 16-31.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety will coordinate the Safe & Sober effort that will include participation from 300 city and county law enforcement agencies and the State Patrol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds the statewide Safe & Sober program.

The program is designed to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. Sgt. Rolf Hagland of the Oakdale Police Department reports, “Officers and deputies from the five agencies in Washington County’s Safe & Sober program produced 21 arrests for DWI in the three-day period over the Halloween weekend.”

Historically, the holiday season is one of the deadliest periods on Minnesota roads. Last year in Minnesota, there were 12 traffic deaths and over 600 injured during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends.

Statewide in 2004 there were 177 alcohol-related traffic deaths - the lowest number of impaired driving deaths ever recorded in Minnesota. Public Safety officials attribute the decline in deaths to stepped-up enforcement efforts, new legislation and public education.

In 2004, there were 7 alcohol-related deaths and 15 injuries in Washington County. The economic impact of these deaths and injuries cost Washington County $10,508,900. Last year, more than 1,316 impaired motorists were arrested for DWI in Washington County. In Minnesota, more than 400,000 licensed drivers have a DWI.

In August, the state’s legal alcohol-concentration level lowered to 0.08. Officers urge everyone to be aware of the amount of alcohol that one can consume before becoming impaired. The impact of alcohol is determined by a number of factors: gender, weight, food consumed prior to drinking and pace of drinking.

Oakdale officers will criminally charge motorists with DWI even below 0.08 alcohol-concentration level based on driving conduct prior to the traffic stop.

“If you drink in excess and decide to drive, there is a high probability you’ll receive the unwanted gift of being charged with DWI,” Sgt. Hagland says.

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