Posted at: 03/15/2013 10:46 PM
By: Steph Crock
(ABC 6 News) -- One in seven, that's the number of Minnesotans with a drunk driving conviction on their record, and as we kick off St. Patty's Day weekend, police want to remind you don't drink and drive. Now, there's a tool to help.
Last year state patrol arrested nearly 350 people for DWI during the holiday weekend and they'll be out in full force again this year, but there's a way to know you've had too much before you get behind the wheel.
You hear people say, "Well I only had a couple," and that they're "fine to drive," but how do they really know? The intoxbox, gives you an answer.
"We’re expecting to be full," said Manager of Whistle Binkies South Craig Kangas. Their bar is decked out in green and ready for one of their busiest nights of the year. "St. Patrick's day is a fun day for everybody but the most important thing is to have a plan before you go home," said Kangas.
"I just think at a time like this, when there's so many different options, it’s just ridiculous for us to go out the door and not have a plan for the end of the evening," said Rochester resident Gale Julius. However, with DWI arrests by the hundreds each year in Minnesota, it's safe to say not everyone does. Which is why those at Whistle Binkies are trying to make safe choices easy.
"We certainly offer free rides through the cab service for anybody that wants one," said Kangas. That... and then there's the intoxbox. "We look at it as another way, as another tool for our customers to gage where they are at if they've had a few drinks," said Kangas.
It tells you your blood alcohol level. You put in a dollar in for one try, grab a straw, and blow. This might stop a few from getting behind the wheel, but not everyone else.
"There's a lot of drunk drivers out and people not paying attention, and aren’t as ‘on the ball’ as they should be," said Julius. She says she’s avoiding going out this weekend all together. "I don't think I’m going to go out. First of all, there's too many people out and I’m afraid of getting into accidents and things so I think I’m going to stay home," she said.
Still, those at Whistle Binkies encourage people to get out and enjoy the holiday. They just hope people will come with a plan. "Don't drink and drive, and get home safely. We want to see everyone the next day," said Kangas.
In Minnesota eleven people have died in crashes in the last five years during the St. Patrick's day holiday weekend. Two involved drunk driving.