Police Stepping up DWI Patrols for the Rest of August

Created: 08/15/2014 6:45 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- It's the leading cause of crashes in the state, and starting Friday, there’s a statewide sting on drunk drivers.

"My sister was killed in 1986, she was 19," said Donna Feils. She stood beside several others, who know firsthand the pain of losing a loved one because someone chose to drive drunk. "It was very difficult, she was my best friend."

The man responsible for her sister's death, was basically off the hook.

"I think he got community service and a fine, so there just really wasn't a whole lot that was happening then as far as consequences," said Feils.

Since then, a lot has changed.

"It can cost as much as $20,000 when you factor in court costs, lawyer fees, and increased insurance premiums. You can lose your driver’s license for up to a year and face possible jail time," said Lt. Scott Davis with the Rochester Police Department.

Even with those immense consequences, the problem is far from over.

"Nearly 26,000 motorists were arrested for DWI in 2013, this translates to 70 DWI arrests per day," said Sgt. Tom Christianson with Minnesota State Patrol.

Alcohol continues to be the leading cause of fatal crashes in the state.

"The fact is, if you're driving drunk, it's much better to be stopped and arrested for a DWI than to cause a tragedy," said Lt. Davis.

"It's 100% preventable. If you're going to drink, just don't drive," said Feils.

Which is why law enforcement agencies across the state are ramping up enforcement, to stop impaired drivers from harming families like Donna's.

"I miss her every day and wish there were things that I could share with her, but it happened and you have to go on," she said.

The extra enforcement runs from now through September 1st.

While at Friday's event, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede signed a proclamation declaring  August 15th as 'Impaired Driving Victim's Day' for the city of Rochester.

Photo: MGN