A statewide enforcement campaign in the final weeks of 2016 nabbed more than 2,400 drunken drivers, among them a repeat offender who was way over the legal limit — with a child in the back seat — and in the wrong lane of a southwest metro highway, drawing ever closer to a squad car’s headlights.
The 300-plus law enforcement agencies that participated in the campaign on weekends and holidays from Nov. 23 through year’s end arrested 2,407 drivers for drunken driving, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced Wednesday. That’s down from 2,502 during the same campaign last year.
There were 11 agencies whose officers pulled over a driver with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.30 percent. A driver caught in South St. Paul with a reading of 0.38 percent led that infamous list. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08 percent.
State troopers in the east metro recorded 331 arrests, while their colleagues in the west metro caught 165 drunken drivers.
For the state’s two largest cities, the numbers were 61 for St. Paul and 56 for Minneapolis.
About 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Michael R. Schultz joined the list of suspected drunken drivers arrested in the final hours of the enforcement campaign.
According to charges filed last week in Scott County District Court:
With a woman sitting next to him and an 11-year-old boy in the back seat, Schultz was driving north on the wrong side of Hwy. 169 and nearing the intersection with Quaker Avenue, where a Jordan police officer’s squad car was sitting at a red light on southbound Hwy. 169.
The officer pulled over Schultz and arrested him a half-mile from his home.
A preliminary breath test measured his blood alcohol content at 0.25 percent, more than three times the legal limit.
The complaint noted that “any use of alcohol” by Schultz renders his license invalid.
Schultz, who turned 40 last Thursday, has three prior convictions for drunken driving on his record in Minnesota.
A message was left Wednesday with Schultz, who returns to court on Jan. 23, seeking his response to the allegations.
The Public Safety Department also highlighted other especially dangerous incidents during the enforcement period.
In St. Paul, an officer was taking his second intoxicated motorist of the night to jail when he spotted a vehicle being driven erratically.
As he pulled the vehicle over, the driver and the passenger swapped spots. Both were arrested.
Also in St. Paul, an officer’s squad car was hit by a vehicle that sped away.
Officers pulled over the vehicle and determined the driver’s blood alcohol content was 0.245 percent.
In Spring Lake Park, a drunken motorist drove through the garage of a home, severely damaging the garage door and two vehicles inside. The driver fled but was later arrested.