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State Trooper Jeff Schroepfer conducted a sobriety test on a driver he stopped for a traffic violation in Minneapolis. The man was not cited for a DWI offense.

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

'Amateur night' advice: Think before you drive

  • Article by: PAUL KLAUDA
  • Star Tribune
  • December 29, 2010 - 6:43 PM

If you drink and drive this weekend, here are some things you might run into that don't involve death or serious injury:

MORE COPS, MORE STOPS

Officers from 400 agencies and the State Patrol will be flooding the roads Friday night and Saturday morning. Many will be on overtime, paid by the last of a $350,000 federal grant that has helped finance efforts to battle drunken driving every weekend in December. Expect even more cops this weekend than on any of the previous ones.

ANOTHER PRESENT?

Last weekend there were no traffic deaths reported from Thursday evening through Sunday, the state Department of Public Safety said. With the New Year's holidays falling on weekend nights, authorities are anticipating potentially more impaired drivers.

FAMILIAR WITH DRINKING SPOTS

In the metro area, saturation zones await drivers in Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota and Wright counties, with officers in reflectorized vests pulling over motorists for violations as basic as not wearing a seatbelt. Others will be patrolling areas near bars or where cars are gathered, "getting in the mindset of the person who has been drinking,'' said State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. "They know the back roads, they know the main routes.''

AMATEUR NIGHT? YES AND NO

Those who go out intent on drinking more also are more likely to plan for a safe ride home, such as with a designated driver or cab, Roeske said. Those getting pulled over are typically those who go out "on a regular basis regardless,'' he said.

IF YOU SEE SOMEONE WEAVING

Get a license plate number, vehicle description, call 911 and follow behind "as long as it's safe,'' Roeske said.

DON'T BE ONE OF THESE

Statewide on the last three New Year's weekends combined, two people were killed and eight suffered life-altering injuries in 121 alcohol-related crashes. Officials made 936 DWI arrests. That puts the holiday on a par with St. Patrick's Day as one of the worst for drinking-related driving, officials said.

Paul Klauda • 612-673-7280

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