With coronavirus stay-at-home orders, Minnesota DWI arrests have plummeted due to decreased traffic and fewer drivers on the road.
Minnesota Sees a Drop in DWI Arrests
Since the coronavirus pandemic began and COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were imposed by Governor Walz, DWI accidents and arrests across the state have decreased significantly with numbers dropping to their lowest levels in years.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, between March 17 and March 26, 2020, drunk driving accidents were cut in half. There were only 389 vehicle accidents, compared to 762 during the same time period in 2019. State Patrol officers attribute the huge drop in drunk driving accidents to fewer drivers on the road due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
Minnesota State Patrol reports show that traffic volumes are down 32 percent across the state. With non-essential businesses closed and people working from home, Minnesota DWI arrests are down by more than 50 percent, with 88 arrests in the last two weeks, compared to 204 DWI arrests in that time period last year. On March 17, all Minnesota restaurants, nightclubs, and bars were ordered to close to prevent further spread of COVID-19 infections and deaths. Since people who frequent these establishments and often drive while intoxicated are now staying at home, DWI arrests have plummeted across the state.
The State Highway Patrol says they are seeing fewer impaired or drunk drivers on the road, but an increase in speeding and aggressive drivers. With less traffic and open freeways, many drivers are disobeying posted speed limits, running red lights and stop signs, and ignoring safe driving practices. Some drivers who are stopped show signs of alcohol and/or drug impairment with levels well above the legal limit.
Minnesota has strict DWI laws with steep penalties for DWI arrests. The legal blood alcohol level limit for drivers is 0.08, but drivers can be arrested for DWI with lower levels under certain conditions. Although Minneapolis DWI attorneys are currently seeing a drop in arrests due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, DWI offenses are normally a significant problem throughout the state. In 2018, there were 26,825 drivers arrested for DWI in Minnesota. In 2019, that number jumped to 27,975. In certain Minnesota counties with a high rate of DWI arrests, 18 law enforcement officers have been assigned to full-time patrols that are dedicated to DWI stops and arrests.