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Minnesota DWI charges increased by 4% in 2019

More people were detained in Minnesota in 2019 on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI) than in the previous year. A preliminary report that was released from the Department of Public Safety detailed the number of drivers detained on DWI charges as part of a program to decrease the number of drunk drivers on the road.

The report showed that 26,825 individuals were detained on suspicion of DWI in 2018. In 2019, however, these numbers jumped to 27,975, a 4% increase. Programs to reduce the number of DWI charges began in 2015. These programs focused on the counties in Minnesota that had the largest amount of drunk driving incidents. The program included placing 18 officers on full-time DWI patrol in these counties.

One of the state's deadliest holidays is the period between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Police reported that 138 people were detained on New Year's Eve and the early morning hours of New Year's Day, and 49 people were detained from Jan. 1 to Jan. 2, 2020. These numbers are up from 2018 as well. Drunk drivers killed 381 people in 2018 in Minnesota. In response to these numbers, the Department of Public Safety is funding six more officers for full-time DWI patrol.

Being charged with drunk driving has serious consequences, which may include hefty fines, license revocation, prison sentencing and vehicle interlocking devices. Those charged with a DWI have certain rights as part of the Constitution. A lawyer may be able to help an individual detained on suspicion of a DWI by ensuring their rights aren't violated. For example, a driver who was detained on New Year's Eve might have been given a Breathalyzer by an officer that wasn't properly trained in administering the field test. The test results may not be valid because of this, and the charges might be reduced or dismissed.

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