ST. PAUL – It’s a team law enforcement hopes one day does not exist. That would mean every driver is making the decision to always drive sober. But the reality is, too many motorists choose to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
To stop those motorists, officers, troopers and deputies across the state try to keep innocent drivers safe by getting drunk drivers off the road.
Law enforcement teamed up in 2018 to make nearly 27,000 DWI arrests across Minnesota.
To honor those who excelled at keeping Minnesotans safe, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) is recognizing 43 law enforcement officers, troopers, deputies, and prosecutors as the 12th DWI Enforcer All-Star team during the Minnesota Twins pre-game activities at Target Field today. The event is sponsored by AAA.
In 2018, the all-stars made 3,017 combined DWI arrests across Minnesota, protecting countless innocent lives from being changed forever. On average, three people are arrested for DWI every hour in Minnesota.
“This accomplishment is not about the number of arrests made,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “This is about the completely preventable tragedies that never took place. We are here today to recognize the dedication and commitment that each of these officers, troopers, deputies and attorneys have displayed in their unwavering commitment to keep Minnesota roads safe for all.”
Top All-Stars Keeping Roads Safe
Topping 100 DWI arrests is not a milestone officers, deputies and troopers want to achieve. They would rather see zero drivers impaired on the road. But thousands of drivers continue to drive drunk on Minnesota roads, which led to 13 law enforcement officers each stopping 100 or more drunk drivers.
Minneapolis Police Officer Jeremy Brodin led the way with 156 arrests in the Twin Cities. In Greater Minnesota, St. Cloud Police officer Darin Vossen led the state in DWI arrests with 168. This is Officer Vossen’s second time being named the top enforcer and seventh time being selected to the DWI All-Star team.
“With the help of the media, educators and advocacy groups, we have reached the point where impaired driving is widely regarded as dangerous and unacceptable,” said St. Cloud Police officer Darin Vossen. “As law enforcement, we are the final line of defense against the destructive choice to drink and drive. I’ve taken that responsibility to heart and made impaired driving enforcement a focal point of my career. Through a grant, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety has given me the opportunity to pursue drunk drivers full-time, and I’m honored to be recognized as this year’s top DWI enforcer.”
DWI Enforcer All-Stars and Number of 2018 DWI Arrests
Greater Minnesota All-Stars
- Jeff McCormack, Austin Police – 26
- Taylor Halverson, Baxter Police – 30
- Matt Gerving, Becker County Sheriff – 50
- Bidal Duran, Bemidji Police – 82
- Jamie Meyer, Mower County Sheriff – 64
- Thomas Brogan, Mower County Sheriff – 39
- Tyler Wilson, Mower County Sheriff – 32
- Justin Kotajarvi – Olmsted County Sheriff – 42
- Allen Mekash, Otter Tail County Sheriff – 31
- Darin Vossen, St. Cloud Police – 168
- Brady Meunier, Thief River Falls Police – 34
- Josh Putzke, Thief River Falls Police – 24
- Chad Myers, Winona County Sheriff – 51
- Steven Rysted, Winona Police – 28
- Jason Oltmanns, Wright County Sheriff – 39
- Alyssa Graham, Wright County Sheriff – 32
- Michael Spindler-Krage, Rochester City Attorney’s Office
- Mitch Elzen, Minnesota State Patrol District 2100 (Rochester) – 152
- Zachery Fay, Minnesota State Patrol District 2100 (Rochester) – 133
- Zachary Borchardt, Minnesota State Patrol District 2700 (Duluth) – 86
DWI Total: 1,143
Twin Cities All-Stars
- Cory Christianson, Apple Valley Police – 101
- Andrew Robles, Crystal Police – 41
- Chad Streiff, Eden Prairie Police – 67
- Ben Wenande, Edina Police – 151
- Shawn Murphy, Fridley Police – 68
- Trevor Weinmann, Golden Valley Police – 48
- Lucas Wilcox, Hopkins Police – 105
- Tommy Albindia, Mendota Heights Police – 37
- Jeremy Brodin, Minneapolis Police – 156
- Joshua Heasley, Robbinsdale Police – 112
- Tony Heifort, Robbinsdale Police – 74
- Timothy Garnhardt, Robbinsdale Police – 41
- Brandon Rogers, South St. Paul Police – 59
- Derek Kruse, South St. Paul Police – 56
- Alex Graham, St. Paul Police – 111
- AJ Veenendall, Woodbury Police – 48
- Tommy Satele, Woodbury Police – 43
- Anna Light, Dakota County Attorney’s Office
- Anthony Nelson, Minnesota State Patrol District 2400 (Oakdale) – 123
- Steven Lindbeck, Minnesota State Patrol District 2500 (Golden Valley) – 122
- Elliott Lesser, Minnesota State patrol District 2400 (Oakdale) – 115
- Allen Thill, Minnesota State Patrol District 2500 (Golden Valley) – 107
- Paul Henstein, Minnesota State Patrol District 2500 (Golden Valley) – 89
DWI Total: 1,874
DWI Arrests and Deaths on the Decline
Through education, enhanced enforcement and awareness, an increasing number of motorists are choosing to drive sober. The 26,825 DWI arrests in 2018 is a 19 percent decrease in the last 10 years.
The overall trend also shows fewer motorists losing their lives due to alcohol. In 2018, preliminary numbers show that 88 people died from drunk driving-related crashes, compared with 101 people in 2009, a 13 percent decline.
A DWI offense can result in the loss of a driver’s 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.
Commit to a Sober Ride
Plan for a safe ride — designate a sober driver, use a cab/public transportation 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.
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
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 the child seats for 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.