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NDDOT talks Labor Day enforcement efforts, unveils Crash Memorial Web page

With Labor Day coming up, law enforcement are ready to step up patrols looking for impaired drivers.

It's the annual "Drive Sober of Get Pulled Over" event.

Mark Nelson of the North Dakota Department of Transportation says that means extra patrols from now until Labor Day. Nelson says the patrols will be looking for impaired drivers – especially those who have been drinking.

"If you look back the last 10 years, alcohol has been a factor in approximately 50 percent of our fataities," Nelson told a Bismarck news conference. "I 2014, we've had one alcohol crash every 8.9 hours."

More than 50 North Dakota law enforcement agencies are participating in the “Drive Sober or get Pulled Over” effort.

"The officers who take extra patrols are taking time away from families and friends, because they believe getting impaired rivers off the road saves lives," said Bismarck Police Sgt. Luke Gardiner.

DOT has also launched a Crash Memorial Web site. It’s a place where family and friends can post remembrances of loved ones who were killed in vehicle crashes.

Tom Deutscher of Bismarck lost three family members in a crash on I-94 near Jamestown in 2012. They were the first to past on that Web page. Deutscher says the Web page is a very good idea.

"It reminds us that we're not alone in our loss," said Deutscher. "Our loved ones had lives. They had a sense of purpose, and people who loved them. It says to us, Aaron, Allison and Brielle -- they're gone, but they're never forgotten."

Three members of the Mickelson family of Colfax were killed in that same accident. Lynn Mickelson says the Web page display sends a strong message on what happens when someone makes the wrong choice.

"We're hoping to change the thinking and the culture of people in the state," said Mickelson. "Drinking and driving is so readily acceptable, and the tragedies continue happening."

"The memorials that are placed here also represent hope," said DOT Safety Public Information Specialist Ashlee Doan. "A hope of preventing another death, and a hope that a positive outcome can somehow emerge from a loss."

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