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Top 13 dangerous DWI counties includes Otter Tail, Becker

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ST. PAUL -- Roads in Minnesota's 13 counties with the highest combined totals of drunk driving traffic deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries will be the focus for increased DWI enforcement today, November 21, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.

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Extra DWI patrols will continue in the 13 counties through September 2013, as part of a 12-month, federally funded enforcement program.

Minnesota's Top 13 Dangerous DWI Counties Targeted for Extra DWI Patrols

These 13 counties accounted for nearly half of the state's drunk driving deaths (160) and more than half of the state's alcohol-related serious injuries (436) during 2009-2011: 1. Hennepin; 2. Ramsey; 3. St. Louis; 4. Anoka; 5. Dakota; 6. Olmsted; 7. Washington; 8. Stearns; 9. Wright; 10. Sherburne;

11. Becker; 12. Meeker; 13. Otter Tail.

New to the 13 counties list are Becker, Meeker and Otter Tail counties; taken off the list from 2012 enforcement are Carver, Rice and Scott counties. The 13 counties are determined by their total number of drunk driving deaths and alcohol-related serious injuries during a three-year period.

Agencies in the 13 counties will use high-visibility enforcement tactics to alert motorists of increased enforcement -- including electronic message board signage and heavy patrols along specific corridors. Advertising will accompany the enforcement to encourage Minnesotans to avoid driving impaired.

"These counties account for a great portion of our drunk driving tragedies and investing in DWI enforcement and education can help prevent impaired driving incidents," said Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving coordinator.

Minnesota Thanksgiving Travel Period (Wed.-Sun.) Traffic Facts--2009-2011

Thanksgiving is historically among the busiest and deadliest holiday travel periods of the year. Officials remind motorists to buckle up, drive at safe speeds and pay attention.

· 11 traffic deaths -- six were a result of a drunk driver.

· Eight of the 11 people killed were motorists and five were not buckled up.

· 1,631 motorists were arrested for DWI.

DWI Consequences

A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands 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.

Tips to 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. Let family/friends know you are available to offer a safe ride home.

· Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear -- the best defenses against a drunk driver.

· Report drunk driving -- call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

About the Office of Traffic Safety

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.

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