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Local law nets 25 DWI arrests in December, about 300 for year

WILLMAR -- Law enforcement officers in Kandiyohi and Swift counties arrested 25 people for driving while impaired during December, with most of the arrests bunched in the weeks just before and after Christmas. Impaired drivers tested with an average alcohol concentration of .14, well over the limit for intoxication.

According to a news release from the Willmar Atwater and Benson police departments and the Kandiyohi and Swift county sheriff's offices, the very cold weather the second week of December may have kept some impaired people off the roads, as 13 of the 20 arrests by Kandiyohi County Sheriff's deputies and Willmar Police officers, and four of the five by Benson officers, happened during the final two weeks of the year.

"We truly hope we don't see the same pattern as last year," said Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog. "The one-arrest-per-day average of December 2007 continued through January 2008. We will arrest each impaired driver we find, so to change things, people have absolutely got to stop getting behind the wheel when they've been drinking."

The preliminary total of DWI arrests in just Kandiyohi County during 2008 is about 270, with another 25 to 30 by Benson PD and Swift County Sheriff's Office.

The local law enforcement agencies worked about 128 grant-paid overtime hours in December as part of the Minnesota Safe & Sober campaign. Personnel working the overtime hours were focused on impaired driving enforcement and seat belt use.

Over 400 Departments across the state joined in the December mobilization of the Safe & Sober campaign. Safe & Sober is led in Minnesota by the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety and is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Numbers of DWI arrests by participating agencies statewide during December will be available from MN OTS next week.

The "Gift of a Safe Lift" e-certificates people can send to friends and relatives are still available through the OTS web site at

The next special enforcement wave will be on Super Bowl Sunday.