Minnesota witnessed a 68% drop in DWI arrests amid stay-at-home orders and closures of restaurants, nightclubs, and bars.
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DWI Arrests Plummet With COVID-19 Closures
Since Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a stay-at-home order in March, there has been a significant drop in DWI arrests across the state. To prevent the further spread of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths, Governor Walz mandated the closure of all Minnesota non-essential businesses including restaurants, nightclubs, and bars on March 17, 2020. As a result, DWI accidents and arrests plummeted to their lowest levels in years.
According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, there were 323 DWI arrests during the weekend of March 13-16, prior to stay-at-home orders. During the weekend of March 20-23, DWI arrests dropped to 126, and during the weekend of March 27-31 dropped again to 94. Compared to DWI arrests during the same time periods in March 2019, Minnesota DWI arrests dropped by 68% during March 2020.
Following mandated stay-at-home orders, Minneapolis DWI attorneys have also seen a significant drop in DWI arrests and related offenses. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, DWI accidents between March 17-26 were cut in half. State Patrol officers attribute the major drop in drunk driving accidents to fewer drivers on the road due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and closures of establishments that commonly serve alcohol to customers.
Despite a huge drop in DWI accidents and arrests, unfortunately, there are still problems on Minnesota roads. In recent months, the Minnesota State Patrol announced that troopers have witnessed a rise in cases of excessive speeding, reckless driving, and aggressive behaviors, even with fewer cars on the road. With home isolation and lack of social activities, many drivers seem to be taking their boredom and pent-up energy out behind the wheel of a car. With less traffic and open freeways, many drivers are ignoring speed limits, running stop signs and traffic lights, and throwing safe driving measures right out the window.
In some cases, drivers who are pulled over for speeding are impaired by drugs and/or alcohol with BAC levels well above the legal limit of .08. In Minnesota, state laws impose harsh penalties for DWI accidents and arrests. Depending on the individual circumstances of a DWI arrest, an offender can spend months or years behind bars without proper legal defense from a Minneapolis DWI attorney who can work with Minnesota courts to get a sentence reduced.