Labor Day is fast approaching, but the Minnesota Department of Public Safety says they aren't waiting until the holiday weekend to crack down on drivers who drive under the influence across the state.

According to their recent news release, as of August 15, more than 16,000 people have been arrested for driving while impaired in 2023. It's important to note that driving while impaired doesn’t just mean drinking alcohol and driving, it also includes both legal and illegal drugs. Simply stated, impaired driving puts everyone on the road at risk regardless of which substance has been consumed.

In an effort to stop impaired driving from endangering lives, Minnesota officers are adding extra DWI enforcement through Labor Day, which is Monday, September 4. This statewide campaign includes extra enforcement and advertising in support of the Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety program.

“Impaired is impaired, regardless of the substance, and the effects are dangerous and tragic for motorists and their loved ones," said OTS Director Mike Hanson. “Labor Day caps off a wonderful summer season. We want people to stay safe, whether they're driving across town or logging extra miles to a favorite getaway. Always plan ahead for a safe and sober ride."

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With recreational marijuana becoming legal this year, authorities want to remind drivers that just like how drinking alcohol in a vehicle is illegal, it's illegal under the new cannabis law for:

  • Drivers or passengers to open any cannabis packaging, use marijuana, or consume other cannabis products in a vehicle.
  • Drivers or passengers to have an unsealed or open container of marijuana (for example, 2 ounces in a zip-close bag). Just like with alcohol, the only exception is an unsealed container or other opened products if they are kept in the trunk of a car or another area not accessible by the driver or passengers.
  • The driver to be impaired by marijuana or other cannabis products. Driving high is a DWI.

The best thing everyone can do is to have a plan to safely get home. This involves designating a sober driver, using a safe, alternative transportation option, or staying at the location of the celebration. You can also contribute by volunteering to be a designated sober driver for others.

In Minnesota, DWI consequences include:

  • Loss of license for up to a year, thousands of dollars in financial costs, and possible jail time.
  • Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above blood alcohol concentration, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver's license.
  • Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

The goal is to drive sober, drive smart, and let everyone on the roads in Minnesota wrap up the summer of 2023 safely.

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