ST. PAUL — At least 300 people were arrested for DWI in Minnesota on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, according to preliminary DWI arrest information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
There was one fatality during the late afternoon on Dec. 31, north of Deer River, Minn., and it is unknown at this time if alcohol was a factor in the crash. In the previous four years there were zero drunk driving deaths on New Year’s Eve-New Year’s Day.
The arrest numbers reflect statewide DWIs from the State Patrol, county sheriff’s offices and municipal law enforcement agencies. A breakdown of DWI arrests by agency is not available at this time.
The 300 DWI arrest figure is consistent for New Year’s Eve DWI arrests; the state averaged 295 DWIs during the previous five years for the holiday.
“New Year’s remains a major celebration, and many people still put lives at risk on the holiday by making the dangerous decision to drink and drive,” says Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving coordinator. “Those who did not plan ahead for a sober ride and were arrested face serious consequences.”
Many law enforcement agencies conducted extra DWI patrols on New Year’s Eve as part of a statewide December DWI enforcement campaign.
Drunk Driving in Minnesota
In the last five years, 651 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, 111 in 2011 alone. Each year, nearly 30,000 people are arrested for DWI.
A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time.
Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges, or face at least one year without a driver’s license. Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.
Prevent Drunk Driving
• Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation, or stay at the location of the celebration. Let family/friends know you are available to offer a safe ride home.
• Buckle up and wear protective motorcycle gear — the best defenses against a drunk driver.
• Report drunk driving — call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety initiative. 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.
Office of Traffic Safety Highlights
• OTS is investing federal grants totaling more than $7 million to 317 law enforcement agencies and community partner groups for enforcement and education campaigns, Oct. 2012¬–Sept. 30, 2013.
• The 2011 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report notes 368 traffic deaths for the year, the lowest since 1944 and a 44 percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago.
• More than 4,000 DWI offenders are using ignition interlock to benefit road safety and ensure legal, sober driving.
• OTS news archive: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/Pages/news.aspx