A statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is underway, and motorists caught driving drunk can plan on having an uncomfortable experience.
“Being booked into jail would not be one of your proudest moments,” said Dan Scheuermann, commander of operations for the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office.
The Drive concurs.
For the record, the Drive has never been cited for drunken driving but on Thursday participated in a mock arrest and found firsthand that it’s everything Scheuermann advertised — a time consuming, humiliating and invasive ordeal.
Tim Parker, an affable but no-nonsense Dakota County corrections officer, started the intake process by confiscating my property and giving me a pat-down like no other. “Got to check for weapons,” he said, including in private areas where criminals like to hide stuff.
From there Parker paraded me to a station where he entered my biographical information on a computer screen. Most arrestees are asked up to 100 deep-diving questions about their background and mental and physical health. Their answers are submitted to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Over the next two hours, officers administered a breath test, took photographs and collected fingerprints. Then it was time to strip down and don a baggy but clean green and white striped jail suit for the long slow walk to the slammer, all while others watched.
“It’s truly a life-changing experience when they spend time in jail,” Scheuermann said.
One in seven Minnesotans have a DWI arrest on their record, according to the Department of Public Safety, and jail time is just the start. Offenders can plan to shell out thousands of dollars for bail, an attorney and to get their car and driver’s license back.
“That should be enough to keep people from getting behind the wheel [while drunk],” Parker said.
It’s not. About 100 DWI offenders pass through the Dakota County jail every month. Statewide drunken driving arrests are up this year. As of last Monday, Minnesota law enforcement had cited 17,061 motorists for DWI, up more than 1,000 from this time last year.
“Drunken driving continues to be a serious and critical problem on Minnesota roads,” said Mike Hanson, director of the DPS’ Office of Traffic Safety. “There is no excuse to find yourself in the back of a squad car, ambulance or hearse.”
Or in jail.
MnDOT tackles I-35W flooding
When it rains, northbound I-35W near 42nd Street in south Minneapolis is prone to flooding. In the first project of its kind, MnDOT will spend $68 million to give water that collects on the road a place to go.
MnDOT will build six underground concrete tanks to collect runoff. The tanks, large enough to hold 4.5 million gallons of water, or enough to fill about seven Olympic-sized swimming pools, will hold the water until it is pumped through a pipe into a tunnel that leads to the Mississippi River, said project manager Nicole Peterson.
“It won’t guarantee the freeway won’t ever flood, but it will reduce the frequency,” Peterson said.
On Monday, crews will start building a retaining wall on the east side of the freeway. That will bring a long-term closure of southbound 2nd Avenue S. between 40th and 42nd streets and occasional overnight closures on northbound I-35W. Tanks will be installed in 2020.
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