The numbers are in after the Minnesota State Patrol cracked down on drinking and driving throughout the entire month of December.
In the month of December, a total of 2,500 impaired drivers were arrested throughout the state. The number is slightly down from the 2,600 arrests that were made in 2011 due to the statewide crackdown on DWI’s in Minnesota.
The counties that reported arrest numbers that were lower than the state average were Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Jackson, Cottonwood and Rock counties. Of those counties, Murray County was the only one to report no DWI arrests for the entire month. Rock County only had one and Cottonwood and Pipestone only had two. Nobles had 4 and Jackson had 5.
The Southwest corner of the state stayed rather consistent with their DWI arrests, staying around their average number of arrests. This is an area of the state that never sees a major swing in their numbers.
The counties with the highest number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths are Anoka, Dakota, Ramsey, Olmsted, St. Louis, Stearns, Sherburne, Wright, and Washington.
The DWI crackdown is the result of a major effort to reduce the number of traffic fatalities. The ultimate goal is for there to be no deaths, but the current goal is to reduce the number to 350 by 2014. Unfortunately 2012 saw an increase in the number of deaths on the road with a grand total of 378. However, 2012 still proved to be the safest year to be on Minnesota roads since 1944 when the number of deaths was 356.
In 2011, Minnesota was recognized as the state with the lowest death rate per 100 million miles travelled by the vehicles on its roads. This is great progress considering that the average death rate per year in the mid 90’s was 547.
As for why the number of DWI offenses is decreasing, it has much to do with the penalties. For instance a person can face license revocation for up to one year and pay thousands of dollars in fines along with time in jail if convicted. Those with three or more offenses have to use an ignition interlock device for up to six years.
The public has also been educated on what to do if they see a driver that they believe to be intoxicated. They are to call 911 and provide as much information as possible, such as location and license plate number.
It should be noted that not every person arrested for DWI is convicted, as there are many times that a person is wrongfully arrested, a rights violation occurred during the arrest procedure, or there is not sufficient evidence to convict.