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Officers Share Local Story to Encourage Sober Driving

Updated: 08/18/2014 6:19 PM
Created: 08/18/2014 4:35 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
blesavage@wdio.com

Heightened DWI enforcement will hit Minnesota roads through September 1 as part of the Toward Zero Deaths initiative, and officers said Monday they hope one young man's story will hit home with local drivers.

Alex Balluff was 18 when he was struck by a hit-and-run impaired driver on Oct. 31, 2009 in Duluth. Today, he suffers traumatic brain injuries. Officers are planing to hand out informational cards during daily saturations around the college campuses during move-in week August 25-29. 

The cards highlight impaired driving's dangers and share Balluff's story on the back. Balluff hopes they'll serve as a reminder to drivers.

"Driving impaired is not an accident. It's a choice with life-long consequences for all involved," Balluff said. 

Lt. Chad Nagorski with the Duluth Police Department said St. Louis County remains the 4th deadliest county in Minnesota when it comes to alcohol-related crashes.

Officers said last year, 26,000 Minnesotans were arrested for DWIs --that's nearly one in every seven of the state's license drivers. Nagorski said alcohol related crashes caused 117 deaths in Minnesota last years. 

"These are sad, tragic and preventable deaths," Nagorski said. "The fact is if you're driving drunk, it's much better to be stopped and arrested for a DWI than to cause a tragedy."

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