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823 arrested for DWI midway through statewide campaign

Midway through a month-long statewide DWI enforcement campaign, preliminary reports from 191 law enforcement agencies indicate 823 DWI arrests were made Dec. 1-11. Nearly 400 agencies are conducting increased patrols through New Year's Eve. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety is coordinating the campaign that includes approximately 8,500 extra hours of DWI patrols.

Multiple agencies made arrests where the driver registered a blood alcohol concentration of 0.30 or higher (the legal limit is 0.08), including Dakota, Goodhue, Martin, Olmsted and south St. Louis counties' sheriff's offices; State Patrol St. Cloud district; and Bloomington, Robbinsdale and St. Cloud police departments.

In Minnesota during the month of December, 2008-10, alcohol-related crashes accounted for 34 traffic deaths. During this same period, 8,503 motorists were arrested for DWI.

Consequences for a DWI include loss of license for up to a year, up to $20,000 in legal costs and heightened insurance rates, and possible jail time.

On average, there were 170 alcohol-related traffic deaths in each of the last five years in Minnesota -- accounting for one-third of all state's total road deaths annually. These crashes and fatalities have been declining in recent years, and DPS officials say enhanced DWI enforcement campaigns have been a major factor in Minnesota's continuing trend of lower alcohol-related traffic deaths.

There were 131 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2010 in the state, the fewest on record and down 21 percent from five years ago. Still, during 2006-10, 791 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes -- reflecting impaired driving as a factor annually in one-third of the state's road fatalities.