Valley Springs, South Dakota — Law officers in three states are joining together for an enforcement project. This tri-state drunk driving education and enforcement campaign, which runs from now through September 7th, is part of the national campaign coordinated by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Officers from South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota are part of the enforcement campaign announced Friday at the Minnesota/South Dakota Rest Area and scale on I-90 near Valley Springs, S.D. The effort is focused around next weekend’s Labor Day holiday.
In Iowa it’s called “operating while intoxicated,” or OWI. In Minnesota it’s “driving while intoxicated,” or DWI. In South Dakota it’s “driving under the influence,” or DUI. Whatever you call it, it’s a big problem. More than 36,000 drivers are arrested for drunk driving in the three states each year. In 2014, the Iowa State Patrol made 1,450 such arrests, South Dakota arrested 9,450 and in Minnesota more than 25,000 such arrests were made. In the last five years (2010-2014), 1,215 people have died in drunk driving-related traffic crashes in the three states, including 239 in 2014 alone.
At the kick-off event, Brad Bigler, a survivor of a drunk driving crash that killed his five-month-old son, Dreke, shared his powerful story. The loss of a loved one at the hands of a drunk driver can have lifelong implications on the victims, their families and even the first responders. He says one decision can alter the lives of countless people.
In his part of the presentation, Nobles County Public Works director Steve Schnieder said that now is the time to make sure you don’t make the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking too much.
Captain Bruce Verdoes of the Minnesota State Patrol tells us why they brought the three states together for this effort.
He says the main goal is to cut down on serious injury accidents and fatalities.
Alan Welsh, Captain with the South Dakota Highway Patrol echos his Minnesota counterpart’s sentiments.
Trooper Vince Kurtz, safety officer with the Iowa State Patrol says that the Iowa State Patrol is glad to be participating in the tri-state effort.
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.
- Offer to be a designated driver, or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere.
- Buckle up – the best defense 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.
The enhanced DWI enforcement campaign is a component of Minnesota’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) program.