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Paynesville Press - September 13, 2006

State patrol cites 51 drivers during campaign

The Minnesota State Patrol arrested 51 impaired drivers in central Minnesota during a recent Safe & Sober Campaign on impaired driving from Friday, Aug. 18, to Monday, Sept. 4.

The Minnesota State Patrol District 2600 encompasses Wright, Sherburne, Stearns, Meeker, Kandiyohi, Pope, Benton, Todd, Stevens, Swift, Grant, Big Stone, and Traverse counties.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety coordinated the effort that included over 400 Minnesota law enforcement agency participants, also including the Paynesville Police Department, which recorded one DWI arrest during the campaign.

"Unfortunately, impaired driving behavior is still a serious threat to our roads," said Paynesville Police Chief Kent Kortlever. "Until people choose to designate a sober driver, our officers have no choice but to continue to increase our enhancement efforts against this serious and potentially deadly crime."

Depending on a variety of variables, a first-time DWI arrest can lead to a loss of license for 90 days. When factoring in increased insurance costs, legal and other fees, the expense of a DWI can cost up to $20,000.

Over 470,000 Minnesotans have a DWI on record, meaning one in eight Minnesotans with a driver's record has a DWI.

The Safe & Sober Campaign is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The program is designed to reduce traffic-related fatalities and injuries.

From 2001 to 2005, there were 36 alcohol-related deaths in Stearns County with an estimated economic impact of $38.6 million. During this same period, 4,742 motorists were arrested in the county for driving while intoxicated.

Kandiyohi County recorded five alcohol-related deaths over the same period with $5.5 million in economic impact and 1,382 motorists arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Meeker County recorded ten alcohol-related deaths with $10.7 million in estimated economic impact and 519 motorists arrested for driving while intoxicated.

Last year, the state's legal alcohol concentration dropped from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent. The state reports there were over 1,500 DWI arrests under 0.10 in 2005.

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