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Officials to crack down on impaired drivers

To combat the serious threat of impaired driving on local streets and highways, local law enforcement agencies including the Bemidji Police, Beltrami County Sheriff and the Blackduck Police will be cracking down on impaired drivers as part of a statewide DWI enforcement throughout the month of December. December is among the deadliest months for alcohol-related crashes and DWI arrests.

The enforcement campaign includes participation from approximately 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies, all deploying extra officers to work overtime hours targeting impaired drivers. A DWI results in a loss of license for at least 90 days and costs approximately $20,000, when factoring in increased insurance costs, legal and other fees. There are more than one-half million Minnesotans with a DWI on record--translating to one in eight Minnesota drivers with a DWI.

Local law enforcement DWI patrols will be combined with seat belt enforcement. As of June 9, Minnesota has a primary seat belt law that requires drivers and passengers in all seating positions -- including the back seat -- to be buckled or in the correct child restraint. Law enforcement can stop motorists solely for seat belt violations, including unbelted passengers.

The enforcement and education effort is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is a component of the state's Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program. TZD is an interdisciplinary approach to address traffic issues regionally through enforcement, education, engineering and emergency trauma care.