2,757 arrests were made across the state as law enforcement agencies stepped up DWI enforcement during the holidays, according to a report from the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Over 300 agencies were involved in the crackdown, which lasted from November 21 to December 29.
15 of the drivers who were stopped tested with a .30 or higher level of blood-alcohol content (BAC). The driver with the highest BAC level tested at .424, according to the extra DWI enforcement statistics.
Per the Minnesota Daily, the initiative was part of Toward Zero Deaths, a program funded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In remarks made available through the Minnesota Daily, Mike Hanson, director at the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, noted that the state was experiencing what he referred to as a “very alarming upward trend” in deaths due to vehicle incidents. Extra DWI enforcement in Minnesota is fairly common every year during the holidays.
Among those suspected of driving drunk during the holidays was a person with 13 previous DWI arrests on their record. According to the Toward Zero Deaths website, the initiative was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 and has since expanded to cover several U.S. states, including Minnesota.
MN Crash Fatalities Increased in 2018
The Minnesota DPS also recently made available new statistics regarding traffic deaths in the state. In 2018, there were 380 fatalities on Minnesota roadways, which represents an increase of 22 fatalities compared to 2017. In its reporting, KARE11 noted 70 percent of the fatalities were men, 42 of the fatalities were pedestrians, and that 42 of 58 motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets.
So can the situation be improved? “It’s going to take everybody paying attention, not getting behind the wheel when they’re impaired, by watching their speed and obeying the speed limit and by making sure everybody puts seatbelts on every trip, every time, every seat. Those four things alone would solve 80 percent of our fatality problems,” Mike Hanson, Director of Minnesota’s Office of Traffic Safety, told MPR.