Authorities to crack down on impaired driving

Published 7:45 am Friday, August 20, 2010

Mower County authorities, along with law enforcement agencies across the state, will be cracking down on impaired drivers the next three weeks.

The effort, coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, is coinciding with what are historically three of the deadliest weekends for drunk driving deaths in the state, including Labor Day weekend, when many motorists are headed to parties and gatherings.

Through a state grant, the Mower County Sheriff’s Office and the Austin Police Department will be able to beef up enforcement during busy evening and night driving hours.

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“This is being done in an effort to save lives,” Sheriff Terese Amazi said during a Thursday press conference.

And certainly the push is needed. Last year, 421 people died on Minnesota roads — alcohol-related crashes accounted for 141 of those cases. On top of that, 107,376 DWI arrests were made statewide just in the last three years.

Mower County has — thankfully — missed the trend somewhat. There were no drunk driving deaths in the county in 2009, and there have been 303 DWI arrests locally in the last three years.

Brad Kollmann, a southern Minnesota law enforcement liaison with the DPS’s Office of Traffic Safety, commended local authorities Thursday.

“Austin police and Mower County are doing just an excellent job,” Kollman said. “The sheriff and chief are really caring for their community.”