Beginning Dec. 4, law enforcement officers throughout Washington County stepped up DWI enforcement efforts in a "Safe & Sober" campaign that continues throughout the holiday season.
Perhaps you read about the campaign in an article published a few weeks ago in the Woodbury Bulletin.
But articles that mention Washington County's 138 arrests for DWI during last year's holiday season, while important, just don't personalize the impact that impaired drivers can have in our own community.
Have you ever read these articles and wondered whether drunken driving is really a problem here in Woodbury?
The following recap of the police department's calls involving impaired drivers during the month of November should be evidence enough that DWI does indeed impact our community.
n Nov. 2: A 20-year-old man was stopped by Officer Scott McCafferty for erratic driving at 12:21 a.m. A 911 caller reported that this person had been driving all over the road in the area of Manning Avenue and I-94. The man was arrested and charged with second-degree DWI. His alcohol level was .23.
n Nov. 3: A 45-year-old man was stopped by Officer Dan Wenshau for driving poorly at 3:15 a.m. in the area of Century Avenue and Oakwood Road. The man was arrested and charged with third-degree test refusal. His alcohol concentration was four times the legal limit at .32.
n Nov. 12: A 20-year-old woman was stopped by Officer Jeff Benysek for driving poorly on Enclave Road near Radio Drive at 1:30 a.m. Her alcohol level was .20. She was arrested and charged with a first time DWI. This is a concerning alcohol level for someone who is only 20 years old.
n Nov. 14: A 47-year-old woman rear-ended another car at the intersection of Woodlane Drive and Valley Creek Road at 10:30 p.m. The woman had an alcohol level of .15. The impaired driver caused minor injuries to the person she collided with.
n Nov. 18: A 47-year-old woman rear-ended another car that was stopped for a red light. Witnesses said the woman had been speeding, swerving, and talking on her cell phone prior to the crash. The driver's alcohol concentration was .19. Extensive property damage resulted but, fortunately, no one was injured in this crash.
n Nov. 20: A 45-year-old woman rear-ended another car at Radio Drive and City Centre Drive at 5 p.m. The woman's alcohol level was .22, nearly three times the legal limit. She was charged with felony DWI as this was her fourth DWI in 10 years. The victims were transported by ambulance for the injuries they sustained.
n Nov. 21: A 27-year-old man drove his car into two townhomes on the 700 block of Markgrafs Lake Drive at 1:25 a.m. causing extensive property damage. The man was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Test results are pending, however, alcohol appeared to have been a factor in this crash.
It is mid-December as I write this, but we already have logged eight arrests related to impaired driving so far this month.
My purpose in sharing this information is to increase your awareness of the impact that drunk driving has on all of us -- in every city and county throughout the state.
We in public safety will continue with stepped up enforcement this holiday season, but prevention really starts with you.
Please be responsible and plan ahead. If your celebration will include alcohol, do yourself and your family a favor and arrange for designated drivers in advance.
Have a safe and wonderful holiday season.
Zacharias is a member of the Woodbury Public Safety Department.