State Patrol striving for zero DWI deaths on New Year'sby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — State officials are hoping this New Year's Eve will be Minnesota's fifth in a row with no deaths caused by drunken driving.
Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol said that four years in a row with no alcohol-related deaths on New Year's Eve is a significant achievement but should not be taken for granted. He said people should stop drivers from getting behind the wheel if they are drunk, and said drivers should call 911 if they see erratic behavior on the road.
"When you see those things," he said, "don't write them off. Don't assume it's someone else's problem because we've seen too many incidents where they're involved in a fatal crash or a serious crash, and people stop and say they've seen the car weaving for several miles but didn't know what to do prior to the crash."
Roeske added: "We recognize that people are starting to get it when it comes to New Year's Eve and arrange for sober rides and a place to stay."
Some local governments are using new strategies to combat drinking and driving. In Anoka County, officials are rolling out a campaign called The Taxi Squad, which kicks off on New Year's Eve.
The Taxi Squad is a unique car: Half of it is painted to resemble a police car and the other half looks like a taxi. It contains the words "Choose Your Ride" -- to remind motorists they can choose a taxi or sober cab, instead of a squad car.
It will make stops at bars, clubs and restaurants throughout Anoka County. Authorities say it won't have enforcement duties or actually provide rides.
Roeske said the State Patrol plans to have more patrol cars on the roads on Monday looking for drunken drivers. There have been nearly 1,500 DWI arrests on last five New Year's Eves in Minnesota.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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