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DWI ARRESTs Drop to six year lows

Minnesota DWI Arrests Over the Winter Holidays Fall to Six-Year Low

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The latest round of COVID-19 restrictions that shuttered Minnesota bars and restaurants during Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Day resulted in fewer drivers on the road and contributed to DWI arrests falling to a six-year low overall.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), 1,383 motorists were cited for drunk driving during the 2020 statewide DWI holiday enforcement campaign.

By contrast, approximately 1,000 fewer arrests were made during a similar four-week enforcement campaign in 2019. This is consistent with an overall decrease in DWI arrests for the year which saw 19% fewer citations issued for all of 2020, according to DPS statistics.

During 2020, Minnesota law enforcement made 22,653 DWI arrests compared with 27,975 in 2019; the fewest since 2016 according to the DPS.

Because DWI enforcement is typically ramped up during holiday weekends, it is not surprising to find higher DWI arrest totals during these times. Traditionally, New Year’s Eve has the most DWI arrests of any time during the winter holiday period. This year, arrests on the night of December 31, 2020 - January 1, 2021 fell to 92 from 138 over the same period last year.

Here are DWI arrest totals compiled by the DPS from previous holiday enforcement campaigns:

2020 - 1,383 DWI arrests
2019 - 2,353 DWI arrests
2018 - 2,757 DWI arrests
2017 - 2,656 DWI arrests
2016 - 2,407 DWI arrests
2015 - 2,502 DWI arrests

Minnesota’s per se law, establishes legal intoxication at an alcohol concentration of .08% or more. According to the DPS, over the course of the 2020 holiday enforcement campaign, six drivers were arrested having alcohol concentrations at .30 or higher. The highest recorded during the enforcement period was a Morrison County driver who was arrested with an alcohol concentration of .39%. In Eden Prairie, Hennepin County, police arrested 11 motorists for DWI – six of whom had an alcohol concentration of .20% or higher.

According to the DPS, an Itasca County man was arrested during the campaign for felony DWI – his eighth offense, including four within the last 10 years. An officer in Sherburne County made two DWI arrests in one stop where the driver and passenger were suspected of switching places after the vehicle was pulled over. And in Crow Wing County, officers arrested a suspected impaired motorist who had five children in the car.

During the 2020 winter holiday enforcement period, the Minnesota State Patrol issued 297 citations – the most of any agency in the state. St. Paul police had the second highest tally with 40, according to the DPS.

The highest number of DWI arrests outside of the Twin Cities metro area occurred in Rochester, where the State Patrol issued 50 citations for drunk driving.

For 2021, the DPS is planning to conduct DWI enforcement campaigns between August 20 through September 6 and over multiple weekends throughout November and December.

If you have been cited for DWI and have a prior alcohol-related driving incident on record within the past 10 years or are arrested with an alcohol concentration of twice the legal limit (.16%) or higher, your license will be revoked for a minimum of one year, your license plates will be impounded, and you must obtain special series (‘whiskey’) license plates and enroll in the ignition interlock program in order to legally drive during the revocation period.

Depending on your prior record, prosecutors may also seek to forfeit your vehicle.

If you were arrested over the holiday period and find yourself facing criminal charges involving DWI (Minnesota) or OWI (Wisconsin) and need to explore your options for getting your driving privileges restored, our seasoned lawyers can help. Attorneys are available 24-7 — Call us at 612-334-3342.

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