Nine Crow Wing County law enforcement agencies have started holiday patrols as part of the national Safe and Sober program.
Safe and Sober is a national program that consists of high-volume traffic enforcement targeting impaired, aggressive or unrestrained drivers and passengers. Federal and state grants are provided to law enforcement agencies for the expanded patrols during targeted stretches, such as high-traffic or bar closing times.
Participating law enforcement agencies are Brainerd, Nisswa, Crosby, Crosslake, Pequot Lakes, Deerwood and Breezy Point police departments, as well as the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department and the State Patrol.
"We believe a lot of the drinking happens in Brainerd," said Brainerd Police Sgt. Becky Putzke. "We want to get them off the roads before they get on the highways."
Crow Wing County has participated in the Safe and Sober program four years, Brainerd for seven.
Last year 72,000 vehicles were stopped across the state during the Safe and Sober campaign, leading to 14,000 seat belt citations, 425 child seat citations, 900 minor consumption tickets and 1,050 impaired driving citations.
Twenty people died on Minnesota roads as a result of traffic accidents during the 1999 Christmas season, double the number who died in 1998. In 1999, there were 626 traffic fatalities -- nearly a third were alcohol-related, said the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
"And this year we're seeing an increase locally," said Dan Gottsch, Crow Wing County sheriff's chief deputy.
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