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Published January 10, 2012, 12:59 PM

DWI arrests dropping dramatically in Minnesota

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - The state of Minnesota cracked down hard in December on DWI's, the typical peak month for alcohol-related crashes, resulting in more than 2,500 arrests. But are arrest numbers trending up or down in Minnesota?

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - The state of Minnesota cracked down hard in December on DWI's, the typical peak month for alcohol-related crashes, resulting in more than 2,500 arrests. But are arrest numbers trending up or down in Minnesota?

The numbers may seem high statewide, an estimated one in seven drivers on Minnesota Roads has a DWI, but over the last few years, the numbers have actually dropped dramatically.

In 2010, DWI arrests totaled 29,918. In 2007, that number was more than 38,000. A 22-percent drop in only 4-years.

Bill Bergquist – Clay County Sheriff: “I think we've gotten a lot more into the education part of it.”

Education efforts, like these anti-drunk-driving ad campaigns.

Bergquist: “And people seem to be getting a little more responsible. There's times I've gone to a wedding dance and you see 10 or 15 cars in the parking lot, that's a good thing that people are being responsible.”

A typical DWI will cost a person roughly $10,000 in fines, court fees and increased insurance costs.

John Eidsness – Insurance Agent: “It's a little bit more to get insurance and once you get it, you're going to pay extra money for 3-to-5 years. You also don't want to get any other violations if at all possible.”

Eidsness says those costs can be $500-to-$1,000 per year. Whether it's financial consequences or ad campaigns, statistics show drivers are definitely thinking twice before driving drunk, but every law enforcement officer will tell you, there's still too many.

Bergquist: “But I just hope all the education is changing their attitudes. We'd rather work one of these DUI enforcement nights and have no DUI's, that would be a good night. But that hasn't happened yet.”

During the month of December, Moorhead issued 34 DWI's, while Clay County issued just 7. The statewide preliminary numbers for 2011 are in at about 25,000 arrests and officials expect the overall downtrend to continue.

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