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Local agencies arrest 19 for DWI during end-of-summer crackdown

ST. PAUL -- An Aug. 21-Sept. 7 statewide DWI enforcement campaign resulted in 1,873 DWI arrests -- more than 100 DWIs a day. The average alcohol-concentration of the DWI offenders was 0.16 -- twice the legal limit of 0.08. Preliminary arrest totals were reported by 326 of around 400 participating agencies. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety coordinated the effort.

The DWI enforcement crackdown also resulted in 3,035 seat belt non-use citations. DPS included the seat belt focus to counter unbelted nighttime fatalities, which are especially prevalent in alcohol-related fatalities. Of the impaired drivers and their passengers killed in alcohol-related crashes during 2006-2008, more than 70 percent were not wearing seat belts.

Local agencies arrested a total of 19 people for impaired driving and issued seven seat belt citations. The Willmar Police Department and Kandiyohi Co. Sheriff's Office both made nine arrests and issued a total of five seat belt citations. One person was arrested by the Atwater Police for impaired driving. The Benson Police issued two seat belt citations.

DPS officials say the state's primary seat belt law not only encourages belt use, but can also help prevent alcohol-related crashes. The primary law requires belt use for drivers and all passengers. Law enforcement can stop motorists if anyone in a vehicle is not belted, including passengers.

"A majority of the impaired drivers killed in crashes are also not buckled up," says Cheri Marti, director of the DPS Office of Traffic Safety. "The primary law gives officers another tool to stop impaired drivers before they cause serious damage down the road."

The Minnesota State Patrol made 284 DWI arrests during the campaign. Among metro agencies, Minneapolis Police Department arrested 55 motorists for DWI, followed by St. Paul Police (49), Bloomington Police (37), and Hennepin County Sheriff's Office (31). In greater Minnesota, White Earth Tribal Police arrested 28 motorists, followed by Rochester Police Department (22), Cass County Sheriff's Office (19), Mankato Police (19) and Stearns County Sheriff's Office (18).