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Add safe and sober rides to the Labor Day weekend checklist

From fairs to backyard grilling, Minnesotans know how to make the most of summer by choosing any number of fun activities. Choosing safe and sober rides should be at the top of the list as the Labor Day holiday approaches.

To stop impaired driving from endangering lives as people enjoy the end of summer, troopers, deputies and officers will be participating in a DWI enforcement campaign August 18-September 4. The statewide campaign includes extra enforcement and advertising in support of the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program.

“Impaired is impaired, regardless of the substance, and the effects are dangerous and tragic for motorists and their loved ones,” said OTS Director Mike Hanson. “Labor Day caps off a wonderful summer season. We want people to stay safe, whether they’re driving across town or logging extra miles to a favorite getaway. Always plan ahead for a safe and sober ride.”

Impaired is impaired

Law enforcement will be looking for drivers who appear impaired by alcohol, cannabis, prescription medications or other substances.

• During the last five summers (May-August, 2018-2022), 197 people died in drunk driving-related crashes.

• In the last five years (2018-2022), there were 412 drunk driving-related traffic deaths in Minnesota.

• Alcohol-related crashes contribute to an average of 376 life-changing injuries each year (2018-2022).

• Drugged driving accounted for 8,069 DWI incidents from 2013-2017 compared with 15,810 from 2018-2022 — that’s a 96 percent increase.

Learn the new cannabis

law to stay safe on the road

Just like how drinking alcohol in a vehicle is illegal, it’s illegal under the new cannabis law for:

• Drivers or passengers to open any cannabis packaging, use marijuana or consume other cannabis products in a vehicle.

• Drivers or passengers to have an unsealed or open container of marijuana (for example, 2 ounces in a zip-close bag).

Just like with alcohol, the only exception is an unsealed container or other opened products must be kept in the trunk of a car or another area not accessible by the driver or passengers.

• The driver to be impaired by marijuana or other cannabis products. Driving high is a DWI.

DWI consequences

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

• Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above blood alcohol concentration, 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.

Make a plan

• Designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option or stay at the location of the celebration.

• Speak up. Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.

• If you plan to drive, refrain from drugs, whether legally or illegally obtained. If you feel different, you drive different.

• If you don’t yet know how a medication will affect your judgment, coordination and reaction time, either have someone else drive or wait to take it until after you get home.

• Buckle up. It’s the best defense against impaired drivers.



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