Each year, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety conducts a survey of drunk driving incidents and compiles the information into the annual Impaired Driving Facts. Focus on drunk driving awareness, education, and increased enforcement of the DWI laws has led to a 25% drop from 2010 to 2014. However, drunk driving remains a serious and lasting problem in Minnesota.
For instance, in the past year, 361 people died due to automobile accidents. Over 30% of these were caused by alcohol, either in the bloodstream of the at-fault driver, cyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian. The majority of these accidents occurred in Hennepin County. For 88 of the 361 deaths, the at-fault driver had a BAC of 0.08 or higher. The average BAC for drunk driving fatalities was a whopping 0.19. Due to these fatal crashes, 88 families were left to grieve the loss of an immediate relative.
While 111 alcohol-related traffic deaths may seem like a low figure given the overall fatality rate in Minnesota, far more DWI accidents result in serious injuries. In fact, over 2,000 Minnesotans were severely injured in crashes caused by drunk driving. Drunk drivers causing accidents resulting in injuries had an average BAC of 0.15.
Males accounted for two-thirds of all arrests, and the 20-24 age group caused the most alcohol-related incidents. Hennepin County, home of Minneapolis, saw the brunt of DWI arrests, with 5,864 total in the past year. 4,013 arrests resulted in convictions, leading to a 68.4% conviction rate. The average BAC for DWI arrests was .148 for first-time offenders and .165 for repeat offenders. 39.38% of DWI arrestees go on to obtain other DWI conviction within the next 15 years, while 45.78% of second-time arrestees go on to obtain a third DWI conviction.
The Department of Public Safety estimates that DWI crashes cost Hennepin County a whopping $30,837,600 in 2014. Altogether, the state government of Minnesota shells out $202,243,700 each year.
DWI crashes result in more than just strains on taxpayer money. They can also lead to dire and devastating effects on your future if you’re accused of causing an accident while driving under the influence. A first-time offender of the DWI law faces up to 90 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, up to 90 days of license suspension, and installation of an ignition interlock device. Penalties continue to increase with each subsequent conviction. Courts look back as far as 10 years into your past for purposes of calculating the number of prior DUI offenses.
The Department of Public Safety only has access to certain data. Therefore, the actual prevalence of drunk driving is underreported. The figures in the report include only data derived from accidents and DWI arrests. In addition, the data does not include minors who are arrested for driving under the influence under the Not a Drop Law. The Not a Drop Law is similar to the DWI law. According to the law, a minor caught with even a drop of alcohol in his blood stream while operating a vehicle is guilty. While a 0.08 is the minimum threshold for adult DWI, a BAC as low as 0.001 in a minor would violate the Not a Drop Law. Minors under the age of 21 face similar punishments as DWIs, such as driver’s license suspension, though a Not a Drop conviction is not the same as a DWI conviction. In 2014, 514 minors caused alcohol-related accidents.
If you were accused of driving under the influence, contact our Bloomington, Minnesota law office at 952-835-6314 to schedule a free evaluation.