Throughout the holiday season, families and friends frequently gather to share meaningful and memorable times together.
Midst all the revelry, some take to the roads when they are in no condition to do so. Unfortunately, DWI arrests often spike during the holiday period from Thanksgiving to New Years. More individuals head out on long trips after family gatherings. Holiday parties, including those sponsored by employers, fill the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is a time of the year to carefully avoid impaired driving. A DWI during Thanksgiving or at any other time during the holidays is something to avoid in every way possible.
Reductions in DWI Incidents
Fortunately, there is some positive news about the overall number of drunk driving incidents in Minnesota. Educational campaigns to reduce impaired driving have had a positive impact over the years. In Minnesota, the number of reported impaired driving incidents have declined over the past decade, from a high of 42,016 in 2006 to a low of 25,258 in 2014, the most recent year for which finalized statistics are available.
Although there are still many arrests for impaired driving in Minnesota, the number of those taken into custody for impaired operation of a vehicle that led to a fatality has dropped precipitously. In 2010, there were 40 such arrests when a fatality occurred, and in 2014 there were five. In 2010, there were 259 arrests for criminal operation of a vehicle while impaired following injury accidents. This number dropped to 87 in 2014.
Arrests for Drug Impairment Increasing
Although alcohol-related DWIs are decreasing in number, drug-related incidents are dramatically increasing. Although DWI driving arrests have dropped in almost every other category, they continue to rise when impairment is due to drug use. In 2006, there were 642 arrests for drug related impairment. By 2014, that figure more than doubled to 1,342.
“Not a Drop” Incidents
Arrests under Minnesota’s “Not a Drop” law, which makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to have any alcohol in their system, have also dropped dramatically. In less than a decade, the number of motorists under the age of 21 arrested under this law dropped from 2,477 in 2005 to 541 in 2014.
Multiple DWI Arrests
Although the overall number of DWI arrests have dropped, the number of those arrested that were previously taken into custody for DWI has remained rather steady. In 2014, 58.9 percent of DWI arrests were first-time arrests, while 22.1 percent were second arrests. 10.5 percent of those arrested were being taken into custody for the third time, while 4.5 percent faced their fourth arrest and 2.0 percent faced their fifth arrest. One violator had 22 previous impaired driving incidents on his/her record.
In 2014, there were 25,258 DWI incidents and 18,841 criminal convictions, indicating a conviction rate of approximately 74.6 percent. This figure would include various plea deals agreed to by defendants and prosecutors. The prosecution rate held steady between 72.6 percent and 78 percent, regardless of whether the individual is a first, second, third or fourth-time violator.
Conviction rates near 75 percent still indicate that approximately one in four individuals are found not guilty by a judge or jury. Prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are numerous reasons why some motorists accused of DWI are ultimately not convicted of a crime. Attorneys focused on this area of the law often have relevant knowledge and experience that may help individuals to deal with DWI arrest.
If you or a family member is arrested for DWI, we make it possible for you to discuss the details with an attorney free of charge and without obligation. We work hard to ensure that our clients’ rights under the law are properly protected. To ask your questions, or to learn more about our legal services, please contact us.
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.