Minnesota Steps Up Enforcement, Makes 1,351 DWI-related Arrests Over 18 Days

A police officer pulls over a driver for a traffic violation in a downtown city
A police officer pulls over a driver for a traffic violation in a downtown city

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has revealed that it made 1,351 DWI-related arrests between August 19th and September 5th, during an end-of-summer extra enforcement initiative.

The campaign included 300 different law enforcement agencies across the state – with most of the arrests occurring in the Twin Cities area. However, other top locations around the state where arrests were made included Rochester, St. Cloud, and Duluth.

In a statement made available by the DPS, Donna Berger, the agency’s Office of Traffic Safety director, noted that most of those arrested were “first-time offenders who won’t get arrested again.” Berger, meanwhile, went on to emphasize that even first offenses could be costly and deadly. “People can overestimate their driving skills and think they’re OK to drive after drinking. They’re not OK, and we need the awareness and enforcement to influence Minnesotans for the safety of all on the road.”

DWI-Related Arrests Decrease

In related news, the department also revealed new statistics related to DWI arrests and related fatalities. Overall, 25,027 Minnesota motorists were arrested for DWI in 2015, compared to 42,007 in 2006 – representing a 40% decline over 10 years. Meanwhile, 95 fatalities were accounted for last year, higher than 2014 (88), but still dramatically improved since 2006 (134 fatalities).

“It’s been a long road, but enforcement, laws and awareness are helping shift Minnesotan’s attitudes about how dangerous and irresponsible it is to get behind the wheel after drinking,” remarked Berger.

Minnesota in the recent past has also expanded its ignition interlock program. Ignition interlock devices installed in vehicles have doubled over the last 3 years.

It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 Minnesota drivers has DWI on their background records.