State Patrol seeks to keep holiday streak going

  • Updated: December 30, 2012 - 8:31 PM

Cops ask drivers to plan ahead so state hits five years with no New Year's Eve drunk-driving deaths.

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In this file photo from April 21, 2011, the Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Todd Merwin

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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Minnesota's State Patrol is asking drivers to plan ahead for a place to stay overnight or for a sober ride home if they plan to drink on New Year's Eve.

For four years running, the state has had no New Year's Eve drunk-driving deaths, and the patrol is asking motorists to help extend that positive streak for a fifth year.

"Our key message, really, is to plan ahead and take care of it before it becomes an issue," patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said Sunday night.

Most people arrested for drinking and driving had not planned to drink as much as they did or weren't aware they were too intoxicated to drive, Roeske said. By planning ahead, drivers can avoid making judgment calls about their ability to drive after they are impaired, he said.

For those who ignore that advice, consequences are likely. The patrol will have extra troopers on duty into the night, and hundreds of police agencies around the state are turning out extra officers, Roeske said. Officers know exactly what they are looking for and how to safely make arrests, he said.

Citizen reports help police take a significant number of impaired drivers off the roads, Roeske said. He urged people to call 911 if they see dangerous driving and to be ready to report the make of the vehicle and its location.

The weather, while frigid, won't present extra driving hazards Monday night, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. It'll be clear overnight, with a low around 7 below and a northwest wind that will bring the windchill to 11 below to 16 below.

LAURIE BLAKE

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