A record 160 arrests were made last Friday night for driving while intoxicated (DWI), despite repeated warnings from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MDPS) that law enforcement would be cracking down.
Authorities announced last Thursday that they planned to have 150 squad cars from more than 70 different agencies on the streets throughout the metro area to catch impaired drivers, urging folks to make arrangements for a sober ride ahead of time.
Twin Cities area drivers seemed undeterred by temperature lows in the mid-30s, overhead message boards cautioning drivers about “enforcement zones,” and MDPS’s own Twitter account announcing the crackdown ahead of time. MDPS even noted on their twitter feed in real-time, DWI arrests and accidents throughout last Friday night (driver names were not released.)
This special one-day DWI enforcement event, which included MDPS, Office of Traffic Safety, city and county agencies, Minnesota State Patrol and MnDOT was the largest coordinated DWI event ever and yielded nearly 100 of the 160 total arrests right here in the metro area. Extra DWI patrols were also scheduled in many other counties this weekend.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) alcohol impaired drivers put people at risk 112 million times per year. In Minnesota alone, there are 30,000 DWI arrests each year and 1 in 7 Minnesotans bear a DWI on their record.
With more than 100 deaths and nearly 300 serious injuries a year in Minnesota due to drunk driving, MDPS scheduled and publicized their imminent crackdown for fishing season’s opening weekend, in order to send a message to drivers about increased summer driving risks when DWI accidents and fatalities historically rise.
In the last five years, Minnesota saw 288 drunk driving deaths during May–August, accounting for nearly 44% of the state’s total drunk driving deaths.