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County Attorney News Release


Monica Jensen

This Holiday Season Keep the Party Off the Road
During this holiday season it is time to remind everyone about the dangerous consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.  On average, 25 people are killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes each day in America during the month of December, including New Year’s Eve.  County Attorney Backstrom and Sheriff Bellows want to remind people that drinking and driving can quickly turn a holiday celebration into a tragedy.  

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom commented:  “When you drink alcohol or use drugs and drive, you are putting your life and the lives of others at risk.  Be responsible, and don’t let your holiday celebrations end in tragedy.  Plan a sober ride.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2010 over 32,500 people were killed in crashes.  Thirty-one percent (10,228) of those fatalities involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol-impaired concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher which is above the legal limit, and 70 percent of these driver-impaired crashes involved persons with a BAC of .15 or more.  Statistics tell us that fatal crashes involving impaired drivers increase in the month of December. 

“Fortunately, citizens in Dakota County can rest assured that law enforcement will be even more vigilant this holiday season in our lookout for impaired drivers as we work to keep our roads as safe as possible, but we need everyone’s help in doing so,” Sheriff Dave Bellows noted.  “The holidays should be a time for celebration, not tragedy,” County Attorney Backstrom added. 

Please keep these safety tips in mind this holiday season and throughout the year:
• Plan ahead for a safe ride home – use a designated driver, taxi or public transportation, or call someone for a ride.
• Walking under the influence can be deadly, too – have a sober friend make sure you arrive home safely.
• If you see a driver on the road who you believe may be drunk, pull over and call law enforcement.
• Don’t let friends drive drunk – take their keys and help them get home safely.

Other general safety tips for safe driving:
• Remember that bridges and overpasses can become icy more quickly than regular roadways.
• As the sun rises later and sets earlier, your commute may find you driving directly into the sun.  Be sure your windows are clean, inside and out, and have sunglasses handy.
• Use the “three-second” rule when following other drivers; increase your following distance in severe weather.
• Never veer for deer — swerving can take a motorist into oncoming traffic or off the road.
• Never text and drive and use extreme caution if using a cell phone while driving.
• Always stick with the basics: Buckle up, focus on your driving, drive sober and at a safe and legal speed.

County Attorney Backstrom and Sheriff Bellows ask everyone to do their part in keeping our roadways safe by never driving after drinking or using drugs, and following other general road safety precautions. 

For more resources on this topic, go to and the Minnesota Safety Council at  If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.