ALBERT LEA, MN — It is never a good idea to drive a vehicle while intoxicated, and now the chances of being caught drunk behind the wheel in Minnesota are going up.
More law enforcement officers are on state roads making sure those who have had too much to drink are finding a way home that does not involve them driving.
Area bars do their best to make sure customers do not drive home after having too much to drink.
“It’s not always easy to tell someone, you know what, you need to stop. We don’t know who drove or who didn’t drive or things like that. But we do make sure that we keep an eye on car keys, we make sure that we keep our local cab company numbers here handy,” said Steve Andersen, co-owner of The 112 on Broadway in Albert Lea.
Sometimes they call in their kids to do some taxi service.
“On some busier nights up here, we’ll kind of put them on call, so if nothing else, they can ferry people in vehicles and things like that home, and that seems to help out,” Andersen said.
If they have had too much to drink and do make it outside the doors and behind the wheel, law enforcement wants to make sure they do not get much further.
“We’re not a funded agency for the overtime from the office of traffic safety for safe and sober, but we are a participating agency, so whenever they have a safe and sober wave going on we will do our own part,” said Lt. Jeff Strom of the Albert Lea Police Department.
They are still doing their typical work. Traffic stops for speeding and other violations are still taking place and they are making sure you are sober during those stops.
“If they come across you and they detect alcohol and they determine that you may be under the influence, they’re probably going to run you through some field sobriety tests and they’re going to take you into custody if you’re over the legal limit,” Strom said.
They say if you see some signs, give them a call.
“You’ve got somebody that’s weaving all over the road, going over the center line, back over the fog line, back over the center line or their speeds are inconsistent,” Strom said.
Whether it is on the roads or in area bars, they are making their presence known.
“A couple of the local policemen stopped in here Saturday night and they came up with some coasters that they had us set out and we set them out right away that night. It says hey, there’s heavier enforcement right now. It’s just a good visual reminder for people, just that little thought in the back of your head,” Andersen said.
225 drunk drivers were arrested Friday night alone in Minnesota. The campaign will last through Labor Day.
In Iowa, the Department of Traffic Safety said they do enforcements like these around major holidays. They encourage smaller patrols to do impaired driving enforcement monthly.
Since 2009, alcohol related deaths have gone from almost 100 in Iowa to 80 last year.