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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Nick Carpenter  651-201-7569
August 26, 2013
Final Drunk Driving Report: 104 Killed, 28,418 Arrested
Report Includes Counties with the Highest, Lowest DWI Conviction Rates

​ST. PAUL, Minn. — As a statewide DWI enforcement crackdown rolls on through Labor Day, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety today released its final 2012 drunk driving report highlighted by 104 drunk driving deaths, down from 111 in 2011 and representing 100 fewer drunk driving deaths from a decade ago.

View Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts 2012 online at:

DPS officials say the declining trend in drunk driving incidents could be reversed this year as crash deaths are on the rise in 2013. Drunk driving crashes killed 585 people in Minnesota during last past five years.

“Impaired driving is a constant and scary factor that plagues our roads,” says Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “But the problem can be addressed and the tragedies prevented if we all make the effort to take responsibility and make smart decisions.”

355 Arrested During Second Weekend of Enforcement

During the second weekend of extra statewide DWI enforcement, approximately 355 people were arrested for DWI according to preliminary reports. There were more than 400 arrests during the first weekend. The campaign continues through Labor Day. Officials urge Minnesotans to plan ahead for a sober ride to stop preventable alcohol-related traffic deaths.

Key Findings in 2012 Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts report:

Deaths and Injuries

  • 395 people died in traffic crashes in Minnesota in 2012 and 104 (26 percent) of the deaths were a result of crashes involving drunk drivers. 
  • 78 (75 percent) of the 104 drunk driving deaths occurred outside the Twin Cities’ metro — Greater Minnesota accounted for 250 total fatal crashes in 2012, of which 70 (28 percent) involved a drunk driver.
  • 2,644 people suffered injuries in alcohol-related crashes.

DWI Arrests

  • 28,418 motorists were arrested for DWI (an average of 78 DWIs per day). There were 29,257 arrests in 2011; 29,918 in 2010; 32,756 in 2009; 35,736 in 2008. The Twin Cities’ metro area and the 80-county Greater Minnesota each accounted for about one-half of all 2012 DWI arrests.
  • 11,474 (40 percent) of these violators had at least one prior DWI.  All repeat offenders arrested, and first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 or higher, are eligible to use ignition interlock to regain driving privileges and avoid at least one year without a license.
  • Males accounted for 73 percent of all DWIs.
  • Motorists ages 20–29 represented 42 percent of the arrests.
  • One in 16 of the arrests were motorists under age 21.
  • One in seven current Minnesota drivers has a DWI on record (584,529), and one in 16 has two or more DWIs. 1,292 Minnesotans have 10 or more DWIs.
  • 39 percent of those who incur one violation will incur a second within 15 years of their first arrest.
  • The average alcohol concentration among first-time offenders was 0.148, for repeat offenders the level was 0.164.

DWI Conviction Rates

  • 76 percent of motorists arrested for DWI resulted in a criminal conviction for driving while impaired; this percentage will increase as outstanding cases are settled in courts. Historically, about 85 percent of DWI arrests result in a conviction each year. 
  • The top five counties for DWI conviction rates were: Clearwater (95 percent); Hubbard (94 percent); Marshall (94 percent); Watonwan (94 percent); Wilkin (93 percent); Polk (92 percent); Wabasha (91 percent); and Otter Tail (90 percent).
  • Counties with the lowest conviction rates: Washington (62 percent); Steele (67 percent); Dakota (68 percent); Hennepin (69 percent); and Fillmore (70 percent).

Impaired Drivers and Seat Belt Use

  • 74 percent of drinking drivers killed were not wearing seat belts.

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 (OTS)
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.

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