ROCHESTER, Minn. – It’s the start to a new year but the same old problem. People are drinking and getting behind the wheel. Already this year, the number of DWI arrests statewide are staggering.
According to Minnesota State Patrol, there have been 1,051 DWI arrests from January 1,2019-January 15, 2019.
This is an increase from the same time period just last year. There were 910 DWI arrests from January 1-15 in 2018.
“It’s shocking,” Hilary Melville, of Rochester said.
But to him, it’s also upsetting.
Nine years ago, Melville lost his 23-year-old son, Austin, after he was hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street.
“We miss him every day,” Melville said. ”Austin would be 31 years old now. He'd probably be married, we'd probably have grandchildren. We have none of that now.”
Now, Melville and his wife advocate for safe, sober driving – no matter the substance.
The Melvilles are also going to the State Capitol on Wednesday to advocate against the legalization of recreational marijuana in Minnesota.
An issue the state’s new governor, Tim Walz, has expressed support of.
To Melville, joining the 10 states and District of Columbia in ending weed prohibition, would be a step in the wrong direction.
“People use marijuana for the purposes of getting high. They're not going to not drive just because they're feeling a little high. And it just makes the problem worse on our roads,” He said.
The drunk driver who killed his son also had THC, the element in cannabis giving a ‘high’ feeling, in his system.
Melville wants people to know driving under the influence of any substance can cost someone more than their license or a legal fine.
“You might have killed someone or you might of killed yourself because of that stupid decision, it's just not worth it,” he said. “People have a lot of ways they can solve the problem, they just need to choose to do it.”
Minnesota law enforcement says one of the best ways to make sure a person or loved one doesn’t drink and drive is to simply plan ahead. Before going out for a drink, set up a ride sharing service, taxi, or friend to pick you up.