Breanna Remer was drunk — speeding, texting and not wearing a seat belt — when she exited a freeway in Oakdale. She misjudged the curve, and her red Chevrolet Cavalier went off the ramp, struck a tree, flipped and landed 70 feet off the road. Marks on the concrete showed where tire rims had cut into the pavement. Remer, who was 19, did not survive.

That was 15 years ago, but Remer's parents and sister are still reliving the horror of that day and the stark reminder that comes with an empty chair every year at holiday gatherings.

"It's not something you get over, move on or forget," Pam Remer said Tuesday during a news conference at her daughter's graveside in Cottage Grove Cemetery, where the state Department of Public Safety kicked off its annual campaign to crack down on impaired driving during the holiday season. "We are sentenced to a lifetime of pain because of the choices she made. Please make plans for a sober ride. You don't want to be us."

In the past five years, law enforcement officers have cited more than 12,230 motorists for impaired driving from the day before Thanksgiving — known as "Blackout Wednesday" — to New Year's Eve, a period when students return home from college and go drinking with friends they haven't seen for months.

Since 2016, 26 people have died in drunken driving-related crashes during the holiday DWI extra enforcement period, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. This year, police from more than 300 agencies statewide will be watching for impaired drivers, and not just those who have had too much to drink.

Drivers on drugs and prescription medications are rising "at an alarming rate," up 58% in the past three years, said Sgt. Tyler Milless, a drug recognition expert with the State Patrol. There were 2,025 drug-related arrests in all of 2020, he said.

"If it makes you feel different, you will drive different," he said.

Breanna Remer's death did not happen during the holiday crackdown — she died Nov. 11, 2006 — but the pain is just as real. She was going 99 mph when she went off the ramp from northbound Interstate 694 to Hwy. 5 at 3 a.m. She had a blood-alcohol content of 0.13%, almost twice the legal limit to drive. Bad choices spelled her death.

"This didn't happen by accident," said Breanna's father, Tim, with tears welling in his eyes. "It happened on purpose because of decisions Breanna made that night. It still feels like it happened yesterday. One of my biggest regrets is that I never got to walk Breanna down the aisle for her wedding. I had to walk down the aisle with a casket."

Tim Remer said actions have consequences, and he implored people heading to holiday celebrations and family gatherings not to speed, drive either impaired or while texting, and to wear a seat belt. Those four situations are the leading causes of death in motor vehicle crashes, DPS said.

The Remers, formerly of Cottage Grove and now from Prescott, Wis., said Breanna was a "funny, goofy" girl who was a good student and liked to play softball. They had talked to her about the dangers of driving drunk, her mother said.

"She made one mistake that cost her her life," said Breanna's sister, Amanda Albrecht. "We have to live with her choices for the rest of our lives. Please don't do that to your family."

Even in cases where death or injury is not involved, a conviction for drunken driving can be costly. It can lead to jail time, a suspended driver's license and costs in excess of $10,000 with court fees and higher insurance rates, DPS officials say.

This season's DWI enforcement campaign comes as 2021 is shaping up to be the most deadly year in more than a decade. As of Tuesday, 452 people had died in crashes on Minnesota roads, almost 100 more than at the same time last year. With 44 days left, this year could see the most traffic deaths since 2007, DPS officials said.

"Don't think this can't or won't happen to you," Tim Remer said. "Don't think your actions or decisions will affect only you."