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2,399 drunk drivers arrested statewide in December

A December-long, statewide increased DWI enforcement campaign generated 2,399 DWI arrests and 2,178 seat belt violations. Preliminary arrest totals were reported by 315 of around 400 participating agencies. Locally, the Alexandria Police Department made seven DWI arrests for the month and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office added two more.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety coordinated the extra patrols.

"Minnesota roads are far from safe when you consider these DWI arrest numbers," said Lieutenant Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol. "Many people made a selfish and dangerous decision to drive impaired. The good news is law enforcement officers were able to stop these motorists before damage was done."

Enhanced DWI enforcement efforts will continue through the end of September 2011 in 13 targeted counties that had the highest combined total of alcohol-related deaths and serious injuries over the last three years: Anoka; Carver; Dakota; Hennepin; Itasca; Olmsted; Ramsey; Rice; St. Louis; Scott; Stearns; Washington; and Wright.

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.

The Minnesota State Patrol arrested 455 motorists for DWI during the campaign. Among metro agencies, St. Paul Police reported 66 DWI arrests followed by Minneapolis P.D. (57); Bloomington P.D. (41); Anoka County Sheriff's Office (37); Crystal P.D. (33); and Lakeville P.D. (30).

In greater Minnesota, St. Cloud Police reported 44 DWI arrests followed by Duluth P.D. (42); Moorhead P.D. (33); Stearns County Sheriff's Office (29); Beltrami County Sheriff's Office (22); and Mankato P.D. (19).

Each year in Minnesota more than 140 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes and 30,000-plus are arrested for DWI. The 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.

The December DWI enforcement was a component of the state's core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD).

A primary vision of the TZD program is to sculpt a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which all motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behaviors.