A highly telegraphed crackdown on drunken driving by police across Minnesota generated about 160 arrests on Friday, more than average on a night when unseasonable coolness may have been the best deterrent.
Almost 100 of those arrested were in the metro area, said Nathan Bowie, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. That’s about how many are arrested for driving while intoxicated on a typical weekend night across the state.
Police announced on Thursday that roads in the Twin Cities would be “saturated with up to 150 law enforcement squads from more than 70 different agencies … the largest coordinated DWI event ever in the metro.” Overhead message boards advertised that major corridors were “enforcement zones,” and the department’s Twitter account announced arrests, but not names.
“Male arrested for DWI in St. Louis Park. It’s almost closing time — make your last call a safe one. Extra patrols on the road,” the department tweeted a little after 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Earlier in the night: “A Minneapolis DWI: 29 year-old male is arrested. Know a family/friend partying tonight? Offer to pick them up for a sober ride.”
Drunken driving accounts for more than 100 deaths and nearly 300 serious life-altering injuries in Minnesota each year, the department said. Nearly 30,000 people are arrested for driving while intoxicated annually and one in seven Minnesota drivers have a DWI on their record.
Drunken driving crashes happen disproportionately in the warm months, the department said. Heavy enforcement on Friday was meant to send a message to drivers at the start of the summer on the opening weekend of fishing season.
But the weather was hardly summery, as Friday temperatures dropped to lows in the mid-30s across Minnesota.
Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 • Twitter: @adambelz