Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Authorities in Minnesota are aiming for a fifth year of zero drunk driving-related deaths on New Year's eve.
"Make a plan, have a plan , do not drink and get behind the wheel on New Year's," said Capt. Steve Stromback with the Minnesota State Patrol.
It's advice that could make a major difference in your life and someone else's, any time of the year. Just like it did for Pam King.
Her nephew Cody Davis was killed in a drunk driving accident in 2004.
"He had a heart of gold," King said. "There was nothing he wouldn't have done for anybody."
Cody was in a car with others who had been drinking when they lost control and hit a guard rail, ejecting them from the vehicle.
"I would not wish what happened to my family or to my sister or what I saw at the hospital that night for anybody to have to go through," King said.
King is now using her pain and suffering in hopes of preventing others of making the same mistake. She shares her story through the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel.
"People just have to understand, it can happen and it can happen in a minute," she said. "No one is invisible to it."
Sobering statistics reveal 30,000 people are arrested on average each year for driving drunk.
More alarming, 651 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during the past 5 years. 111 were killed last year alone.
The MN Dept. of Public Safety said DWI related deaths, injuries and arrests have gone down over the past ten years, but they say those numbers are still too high.
• 25 deaths; seven (28 percent) involved a drunk driver.
• 60 serious injuries; (43 percent) 26 were alcohol-related.
• 1,608 DWI arrests (322 per-year average).
• 10 deaths; one (10 percent) involved a drunk driver (zero in last four years).
• 24 serious injuries; eight (33 percent) were alcohol-related.
• 1,477 DWI arrests (295 per-year average).
"We want that statistic of no deaths on a holiday to be for every holiday, for every day of the week," Capt. Stromback said.
Statistics that have names and faces.
"I don't like to talk about him in the past," King said. "It's hard for me to do that it's hard for my sister, dad, his brother as well. It's a very heart breaking thing. "
Tips from Minnesota State Patrol
• Plan for a sober ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation or stay at the location of the celebration.
• Metro Transit is offering free rides on New Year’s Eve from 6 p.m. through the last scheduled trip on buses and light rail.
• Those not planning to drink should let family/friends know they are available to offer a sober ride home.
• Buckle up — the best defenses against a drunk driver.
• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.
Tips from Wisconsin State Patrol:
• Before you start partying, choose a sober designated driver.
• If you’re feeling buzzed, you probably are over the 0.08 (alcohol concentration) limit and should not drive.
• Take mass transit, a taxicab or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
• Don’t allow friends to drive drunk no matter how much they protest.
• Some taverns and restaurants have programs to provide patrons with a safe ride home.