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Local law enforcement participating in statewide extra DWI enforcement

The holidays will look a lot different in 2020. Many people will be staying home, celebrating with immediate family. The holidays often involve drinking during a family dinner, and sometimes people lose track of how many drinks they’ve consumed. This can often lead to a person unknowingly driving under the influence.    

To help keep families together this holiday season, the Austin Police Department and Mower County Sheriff’s Office will be participating with law enforcement statewide in an extra DWI enforcement and awareness campaign running on weekends beginning Nov. 25 through Dec. 31.

“Planning ahead to ensure a sober ride home is an important piece of attending any holiday gathering if you plan on drinking,” said Austin Police Chief David McKichan.

According to numbers from theMinnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, there were 413 drunk driving-related deaths from 2015-19 and an average of 357 life-changing injuries per year during the same time period.

“The pandemic is relentless, spreading among our friends and families, and stressing our healthcare resources,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “We cannot have impaired driving further compromising our critical medical capabilities for those who are truly in need. Plan a sober ride and stop the heartache and empty chairs at the holiday table.”

DWi consequences include:

• Loss of license for up to a year, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time.

• Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver’s license.

• Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.