When you have a big problem, focusing resources to solve it a bit at a time can make sense. Drunk driving – and its resulting crashes, injuries and deaths – is a problem all over the state of Minnesota. And although law enforcement in each of our 87 counties are working hard to eliminate it, it makes sense, as part of the approach, to look at the data and concentrate DWI patrols on the 15 most dangerous drunk driving counties.

From 2014 to 2018, 281 people died in drunk driving-related crashes in those 15 counties out of 540 statewide. To put it another way, 52 percent of all drunk driving deaths during that time period took place in just 17 percent of Minnesota's counties. Similarly, 982 people were seriously injured in alcohol-related crashes in the 15 counties out of 1,657 statewide.

Where are these counties? Many of them comprise the metro area, as one might expect. No matter where they are, though, law enforcement officers in those counties are providing extra patrols to get drunk drivers off the roads through September of this year. The top 15 most dangerous drunk driving counties based on 2014-2018 figures are:

  1. Hennepin
  2. Ramsey
  3. Anoka
  4. St. Louis
  5. Dakota
  6. Washington
  7. Stearns
  8. Sherburne
  9. Olmsted
  10. Wright
  11. Rice
  12. Cass
  13. Becker
  14. Scott
  15. Otter Tail

Whether you live in one of these 15 counties or not, it's always important to plan a sober ride if you plan to go out. After all, a first-time DWI can cost you an average of $10,000, or you could cause a crash that results in serious injury or death for you or someone else.

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So designate a driver, call a cab or ride-share service, use public transportation, or stay at the location of the party. And make sure you speak up: Offer to be a designated driver, and if you see someone who's impaired about to get behind the wheel, help them find a safe ride home. Similarly, if you witness impaired driving behavior out on the road, call 911 and report it (be prepared to give the location, license plate number, and the behavior you observed). And don't forget to buckle up: It's the best defense against a drunk driver.

If we come at the problem of drunk driving a bit at a time, and from both directions—the driver side and the law enforcement side—we're sure to make a difference. Thank you for doing your part.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).