Getting arrested for DWI can be an embarrassing and life-changing experience. And, believe it or not, even a lifesaving one.

What to expect:

  • Be pulled over by a law enforcement officer.
  • Take a field sobriety test.
  •  “Pat-down” at the jail.
  • Blow into a Breathalyzer.
  • Answer up to 500 personal questions.
  • Take fingerprints.
  • Have photo entered into statewide law enforcement database.
  • Strip down and shower.
  • Provided jail-issued clothing, including undergarments.
  • Spend time in a jail cell with other inmates; possibly more than 48 hours if arrested on a weekend
  • Loss of license.

All of this should be a deterrent to driving impaired, but it wasn’t for the nearly 27,000 drivers arrested for DWI in Minnesota last year. The 16,301 arrests so far this year is ahead of last year’s pace.

That’s why officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies will be working extra DWI enforcement shifts starting Aug. 16 and running through Sept. 2. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the overtime funds and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the extra enforcement and education effort.

“We want people to understand that a DWI arrest is not only embarrassing, it’s a dangerous behavior that can cost someone their life,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “It’s so frustrating because each of the 84 drunk driving-related deaths last year was preventable. It continues to baffle me why people choose to get behind the wheel after drinking when there are so many choices to get a sober ride. Let’s commit to making our roads safer by always lining up a sober ride.”

Summer Buzz Kill
Crashes involving alcohol continue to change lives forever, contributing to 84 deaths in Minnesota in 2018, the most since 2015.

Drunk driving-related deaths increase significantly in the summer months. From 2014-2018, 127 people lost their lives in drunk driving-related crashes from June through August. While drunk driving continues to be a leading factor in traffic fatalities, there were also 481 alcohol-related serious injuries during the same timeframe.

Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities and Alcohol-Related Serious Injuries
2014-2018
​Months Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities
(drunk driving-related is any driver at .08 or above)
​Alcohol-Related
Serious Injuries
(alcohol-related is any evidence of alcohol in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist)
​December-February ​69 ​294
​March-May ​113 ​446
​June-August ​127 ​481
​September-November ​103 ​436

Labor Day – No Time Off for Law Enforcement 
The Labor Day period is a working holiday for troopers, officers and deputies who are finding drunk drivers behind the wheel. The holiday period is the third worst for drunk drivers based on DWI arrests per hour at 3.8 (Halloween is the worst at 4 per hour).

Law enforcement officers consistently arrest more than 400 people for drunk driving during the long holiday weekend.

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 Eve – 3.3
  • Super Bowl – 3.2
  • Christmas – 2.5
  • Annual Average – 2.5

Labor Day DWI Arrests (Friday-Tuesday)

Year​ ​DWIs
​2014 ​441
​2015 ​500
​2016 ​421
​2017 ​449
​2018 ​401
​Total ​2,212

DWI Arests Year-Round

​Year ​DWIs
​2014 ​25,389
​2015 ​25,371
​2016 ​24,103
​2017 ​25,128
​2018 ​26,414
​Total ​126,405

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.

Definitions

  • Driving While Impaired (DWI) is a violation for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Alcohol-related: any evidence of alcohol detected in a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist.
  • Impaired-related: any driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.
  • Drunk-driving-related: any driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above.