Facts from the DPS

There was big excitement in the newsroom today (on my part anyway) when the latest Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts issue came in the mail.

Well, it really isn’t that exciting, but they make great reference books when I’m working on articles about impaired driving.

This is a compilation of the 2008 facts. A new one is issued every year from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety, but they are always a year behind.

The 2008 Crash Facts came out in July 2009, but it takes them longer to boil things down for the Impaired Driving Facts.

So, here’s the good news. Alcohol-related deaths decreased to 163 in 2008, an all time low.

In 2008, 455 people died in traffic crashes in Minnesota. This is actually the lowest number on record since 1945. One-third of the deaths are the result of alcohol-related crashes.

Here are a few interesting facts:

  • 35,794 DWIs were issued to drivers on Minnesota roads, which averages out to 98 per day.
  • About 40 percent of those violators had at least one prior DWI on record.
  • 8 percent of the total DWIs were issued to drivers less than 21.
  • 1 out of every 8 current Minnesota drivers has at least one DWI on their driving record.
  • 2,896 people sustained injuries in alcohol-related crashes.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story behind impaired driving. Behind the numbers are lives lost and ruined. Children are left without parents, and parents are left without children.

The news from DPS can be considered good – all time lows and decreases. But even one death from drinking and driving is too many. Especially when you consider that the death may not be of the person who drank and got behind the wheel of a car. It could be the death of a father on his way home from work, a mother on her way to the grocery store or a 3-year-old child in the backseat.

When two vehicles collide, it isn’t always the person at fault that pays the price. Sometimes it is the innocent victim. Car crashes are funny like that.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t drink and drive.