Law enforcement prepares for New Year’s Eve patrols

Published 7:03 am Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year’s Eve is often a night for partying, which means it is also a night for enhanced DWI enforcement.

The Minnesota State Patrol reports that Thursday night will be the end of a month-long crackdown on impaired driving with heightened patrols across the state.

And the patrols are for good reason as New Year’s Eve is often one of the worst nights for impaired driving during the year.

Between 2004 and 2008, 1,688 Minnesota motorists were arrested on New Year’s Eve for DWIs, the state patrol reports.

Alcohol-related crashes also accounted for six of 21 traffic deaths on the festive night during that span.

While the state patrol may be ramping up coverage, Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said her department will have a pretty standard staff, with three deputies on duty. She said they will all be “out and about.”

Amazi said she thinks more people are getting the message about the dangers of impaired driving on New Year’s Eve.

“It really isn’t that big of a night anymore,” she said.

Local statistics seem to support Amazi’s claim — the sheriff can only remember one New Year’s Eve traffic death in the last 18 years, and there have been only a handful of crashes the last few years.

Amazi and state patrol officials said motorists should plan in advance for a sober ride, which can include public transportation or a designated driver.

“The countdown is on, if you’re planning on partying for New Year’s, now is the time to plan how you’re going to get home safely,” said Capt. Matt Langer of the state patrol in a press release. “The last place you want to ring in the New Year is in jail.”