A Freeborn County woman with a .45 percent blood-alcohol concentration was among the drunkest of 2,537 motorists arrested for drunken driving in Minnesota during the holiday enforcement period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.
Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety show that 84 more drivers were arrested this year than during a similar campaign the previous year, when 2,453 drivers were cited.
But for all of 2014, the total number of drunken driving arrests fell to 24,159 from the 25,719 reported in 2013 and 28,418 in 2012. It marked the eighth straight year that the number of drunken driving arrests declined.
While the falling numbers are regarded as a good sign, officials say driving drunk remains a problem on Minnesota roads.
"Even though we are encouraged by declining DWI numbers, one drunk driver is one too many," said Donna Berger, director of DPS' Office of Traffic Safety.
Statewide numbers show that 16 drivers had BAC levels of .30 percent or higher. The legal limit to operate a motor vehicle is .08 percent. The woman arrested in Freeborn County was more than five times above that when police found her passed out in her car with the engine running in the driveway of a state trooper's home.
"Some might call it unlucky to pass out drunk in the driveway of a trooper, but this woman is very fortunate that she didn't injure or kill herself or another motorist," said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the Minnesota State Patrol.
Police arrested 303 people for drunken driving on the Saturday before Christmas, Dec. 20, the most of any day during the six-week campaign. The State Patrol's east metro district had the most arrests with 168 during the campaign, followed by 153 in the west metro and 100 by the Minneapolis Police Department.
In greater Minnesota, the top arresting agencies were the State Patrol's Rochester district with 44, the St. Cloud district with 43 and the Stearns County Sheriff's Office with 37. To see where drivers were arrested, go to http://tinyurl.com/latjug9.
Police also wrote 2,093 tickets to motorists not wearing their seat belts.