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Officers arrest 605 drunk driving suspects during statewide campaign

Minnesota law enforcement officers have arrested 605 drunk drivers two weekends into a statewide driving while under the influence (DWI) enforcement campaign, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety preliminary reports.

The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign runs through Labor Day. State officials urge Minnesotans to plan ahead for a sober ride to avoid the dangers and harsh consequences of a DWI.

A similar DWI crackdown to close out summer in 2011 resulted in 1,787 DWI arrests.

"There is no excuse for drunk driving, but far too often, people find an excuse and find themselves in serious trouble," said Lt. Eric Roeske of the state patrol. "Close out the end of the summer safely by having a safe and sober ride arranged in advance of celebrating."

During the past five years, 2007-2011, 651 people were killed in Minnesota drunk driving crashes, accounting for one-third of the state's 2,165 total road deaths.

Officials say that the 34 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths from five years ago points to motorists making smart plans for a sober ride and the effectiveness of enhanced enforcement and education campaigns.

In 2011, 29,257 motorists were arrested for DWI, the average alcohol-concentration of an offender was 0.16. One in seven Minnesota drivers have a DWI on record.

A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time. Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, 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.