ST. PAUL — At least 300 people were arrested for DWI in Minnesota on New Year’s Eve Monday and New Year’s Day Tuesday, according to preliminary arrest information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
There was one fatality reported during the late afternoon Monday north of Deer River, Minn., according to a DPS spokesman. It is unknown at this time if alcohol was a factor in the crash. In the previous four years there were no drunk driving deaths on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
The arrest numbers reflect statewide DWIs from the State Patrol, county sheriff’s offices and local law enforcement agencies, the spokesman said. A breakdown of DWI arrests by agency is not available at this time, he added.
The 300 DWI arrest figure is consistent for New Year’s Eve DWI arrests; the state averaged 295 DWIs during the previous five years for the holiday.
“New Year’s remains a major celebration, and many people still put lives at risk on the holiday by making the dangerous decision to drink and drive,” said Jean Ryan, DPS Office of Traffic Safety impaired driving coordinator. “Those who did not plan ahead for a sober ride and were arrested face serious consequences.”
Many law enforcement agencies conducted extra DWI patrols on New Year’s Eve as part of a statewide December DWI enforcement campaign.
In Minnesota during the last five years, 651 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, 111 in 2011. Each year, nearly 30,000 people are arrested for DWI.
A DWI offense can result in loss of license for up to a year, thousands in costs and possible jail time. Repeat DWI offenders and first-time offenders arrested at a 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.
Persons can prevent drunk driving by:
Planning a safe ride using a designated sober driver, taking a cab or public transportation or staying at the location of the celebration. Let family or friends know you are available to offer a safe ride home.
Fastening your seatbelt and wearing protective motorcycle gear are the best defenses against a drunk driver.
Call 9-1-1 to report drunk driving when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide the location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.