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Published October 19, 2011, 10:11 PM

Wahpeton sees dramatic decrease in DUI arrests

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - It can be a matter of life and death when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel. Thousands of lives are taken every year by drunk drivers in America. But some law enforcement agencies are showing the number of drunks behind the wheel is heading in the right direction.

It can be a matter of life and death when a drunk driver gets behind the wheel. Thousands of lives are taken every year by drunk drivers in America. But some law enforcement agencies are showing the number of drunks behind the wheel is heading in the right direction.

Despite an increase in grant money and saturation efforts the number of DUI arrests in Wahpeton has decreased dramatically over the last few years.

Scott Thorsteinson – Wahpeton Police Chief: “I think that more than arrest stuff, the education efforts have made a difference.”

Wahpeton Police Chief Scott Thorsteinsen says DUI numbers were greater than 200 on an annual basis in the 70's and 80's. Last year the Wahpeton Municipal Court heard only 35 cases.

Chief Thorsteinson is also part of the safe communities coalition. He says community wide educational efforts like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are what's really driving home the message.

Scott Thorsteinson: “The public is even different. A drunk driver back in the 70's and 80's was a whiny pain. Now a lot of times they have a different attitude. They're just thankful they haven't hurt anybody.”

The numbers may be down, but for these law enforcement officials, nothing will be complete until that number is 0. Just four years ago, the court saw 76 DUI cases.

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