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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Scott Wasserman  651-201-7571
Dave Boxum  651-201-7569
November 26, 2019
Give the Gift of a Sober Ride this Holiday Season

ST. PAUL – A holiday beer with a friend. A glass of wine at a family member’s home. One shot for the road. A drink here or there can seem insignificant, but one drink can affect a driver’s judgement. Now, add in the challenge of driving in inclement weather and you have a recipe for disaster. This holiday season, give the gift of life by choosing a sober ride every time you decide to have even one drink. 

Minnesota is expected to see significant snow fall today and continuing into Wednesday, one of the heaviest drinking days of the year. Snow and ice make driving conditions challenging enough. Drivers who consume even one drink can experience delayed reaction times. That’s why drivers should line up a sober ride any time they decide to drink alcohol.

To help keep families together this holiday season, more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota are teaming up to get impaired drivers off the road. Officers, deputies and troopers will be participating in an extra DWI enforcement campaign starting Nov. 27 and running on weekends through Dec. 28.

DWI Officers Focus on Impairment
In some of the state’s most dangerous drunk driving counties, there are 18 officers who are dedicated to fulltime DWI patrols in their community. The DWI officer program began in 2015 and is funded by the Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS).

DWI officers are currently located in:

  • Apple Valley Police Department
  • Bemidji Police Department
  • Bloomington Police Department
  • Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office
  • Coon Rapids Police Department
  • Duluth Police Department
  • Edina Police Department
  • Fridley Police Department
  • Hopkins Police Department
  • Minneapolis Police Department
  • Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office
  • Pine County Sheriff’s Office
  • Richfield Police Department
  • Rochester Police Department
  • Saint Paul Police Department
  • Stearns County Sheriff’s Office
  • Washington County Sheriff’s Office
  • White Bear Lake Police Department

During the last year (Oct. 1, 2018 – Sept. 30, 2019), DWI officers made nearly 1,800 DWI arrests, representing 7 percent of the state’s total for that period.

The success of the program has recently allowed DPS-OTS to provide funding for six additional DWI officers who will begin patrolling in the coming weeks. The officers currently serve in these agencies: 

  • Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office
  • Blaine Police Department
  • Crystal Police Department
  • Eden Prairie Police Department
  • St. Cloud Police Department
  • St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office

“The program’s success can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of these officers getting impaired drivers off of Minnesota roads,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “These officers, along with their colleagues across the state, will be focused on making your holiday travel as safe as possible. That means if you decide to drink and get behind the wheel, you have already made the choice to go to jail and spend the holidays behind bars with strangers.”

Holiday DWIs Rise
Over the last five years, more than 125,000 people were arrested for DWI in Minnesota. Almost 13,000 of those DWI arrests happen between the Thanksgiving and New Year’s holidays. That’s 10 percent of all DWIs in the last five years.

The decision to get behind the wheel after drinking is costing too many people their lives over the holiday season: drunk driving has contributed to 28 deaths on Minnesota roads from the day before Thanksgiving through Dec. 30 in the last five years (2012-2017).

Holiday DWI Arrests (Day before Thanksgiving – Dec. 30)


Year​  DWIs​
2013 ​ ​2,556
2014​ ​ 2,565
​2015  ​2,381
​2016 ​2,271
​2017 ​ 2,717
Total ​ ​12,490


DWI Arrests Totals


Year ​ DWIs​
2013​ ​26,014
2014 ​ ​25,392
2015 ​ ​25,374
2016​ ​  24,059
2017​ ​ 24,862
Total​  125,701


Holiday DWI Arrests Per Hour (2013-2017)
  • Halloween – 4.0
  • Fourth of July – 3.9
  • Labor Day – 3.8
  • St. Patrick’s Day – 3.8
  • Memorial Day – 3.6
  • Thanksgiving – 3.6
  • New Year’s Day – 3.3
  • Super Bowl – 3.2
  • Cinco de Mayo – 3.0
  • Christmas – 2.5
  • Annual Average – 2.9
Drugged Driving is Dangerous Driving
If you feel different, you drive different, whether it’s from alcohol, cold medicine, a prescription or any other drug. Impairment is impairment, and in the last 10 years, Minnesota has seen a significant increase in DWIs involving a controlled substance while alcohol offenses have declined over this same period. 
Comparison of DWI Incidents in Minnesota​
During 2008-2012 and 2013-2017
Years ​ Controlled Substance Only​  Alcohol Only​ ​DWI Incidents
Minnesota Total, 2008-2012​ ​ 4,477 ​152,593  ​157,070
Minnesota Total, 2013-2017 ​ ​7,949 ​117,752 ​  125,701
Percent Change​ ​ +78 percent  ​-23 percent ​ -20 percent
 DWI Consequences
  • Loss of license for up to a year, thousands of dollars 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.

 Speak Up and Plan a Sober Ride

  • Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option, or stay at the location of the celebration.
  • Speak up – Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home.
  • Buckle up — the best defense 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 (DPS-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. DPS-OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for child seats for the needy families program.

DPS-OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program. 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 medical and trauma response — and everyone doing the right thing when driving.



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