ST. PAUL — Extra DWI patrols on St. Patrick’s Day resulted in the arrest of 246 motorists for DWI, according to preliminary results from 155 reporting Minnesota law enforcement agencies.
Officials with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety say the arrest count will rise as additional DWI arrest information is submitted to the agency.
The last time the holiday was on a Saturday, 527 motorists were arrested for DWI and all three traffic deaths were alcohol-related. In a typical weekend in Minnesota, 170 motorists are arrested for DWI.
Officials say the lower 2012 preliminary St. Patrick’s Day DWI count may reflect that Minnesotans celebrating the holiday received the message and made safe plans to avoid drinking and driving.
“It’s discouraging that so many people made the potentially deadly decision to drive drunk,” says Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol. “Yet given the weekend circumstances and the nice weather, the lower arrest numbers may mean that people used safe alternatives. Our hope is people will continue to plan ahead for a sober ride whenever they plan on celebrating with alcohol as a component.”
Each year, alcohol-related crashes account for one-third of the state’s total traffic deaths (131 deaths in 2010) and 30,000 motorists are arrested for DWI.
St. Patrick’s Day DWI Arrests, (data include March 17–18 arrests):
To-date in 2012, there have been 66 traffic deaths, up 47 percent from the 45 deaths at this time 2011.
DWI enforcement and education is a component of the state’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.