A Review of Minnesota DWI Statistics and Trends

A Review of Minnesota DWI Statistics shows how many problems impaired driving has caused in the states over the past few years. This post offers a quick overview of statistics on arrests, accidents, injuries, and deaths in the state. Official statistics show that drinking and driving is common, but probably in decline because deaths, injuries and traffic stops have all been trending downward for years in spite of population growth.

Prevalence of Impaired Driving:

Impaired driving is illegal, so gathering reliable statistics on how often people do it can be impractical, if not impossible. All experts can do is estimate how often impaired driving happens from arrest statistics or from surveys. One way of gauging the frequency of drunk or impaired driving is to ask adults if they have driven after drinking in the previous 30 days.

The Centers for Disease Control collect survey data on the prevalence of drunk driving around the country. In 2014, the nationwide average was 1.9%. In Minnesota, the rate was 2.4%. Nine states have an equal or higher prevalence of drunk driving. There is no comparable statistic for illegal drugs or for prescription drugs. This can be relevant because prescription drugs that impair reaction times and judgement still cause impaired driving.

The DWI arrest statistics suggest that almost all of them got away with it. The statistics below are on “impaired driving” so prescription drugs and other marijuana and other illegal drugs. Minnesota law does not distinguish between injury accidents caused by a drunk driver versus a driver impaired by prescription drugs. Regardless of that, trend data suggest that impaired driving is becoming less common.

Trends in Impaired Driving:

Most states keep historical data on arrests, accidents, deaths and injuries related to impaired driving. Minnesota is no exception, with statistics going back to 1995 readily available online. Recent Minnesota Department of Public Safety statistics show that impaired driving is probably in decline in the state. There were 30,112 total incidents involving impaired drivers in 2010. This number declined to 25,258 in 2014, the latest year for official statistics. Back in 1995 when the state’s population was lower than the 2015 estimate of 5.49 million there were 30,415 incidents. Unsurprisingly then, deaths and injuries have been declining for years.

Deaths and Injuries:

Driving while intoxicated is dangerous and everyone knows it. Nevertheless, people who are drinking and driving There were 114 DWI fatalities in Minnesota in 2012. This number contrasts with the 18 deaths reported by Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, but neither source gives enough details to reconcile those two numbers. Based on DPS statistics, fatalities have been on the decline in recent years, from 40 in 2010 to 27 in 2014.

Injuries have also been dropping. In 2010, 259 people were injured in DWI-related accidents. There were only 87 injuries in 2014, the end of a steady decline in injuries over several years. The actual rate of injury resulting from drunk driving is probably much higher but it is not clear if DPS statistics cover all injuries, including to pedestrians and cyclists and injuries where the person did not get medical attention.

Statistics on young adult offenders are reported separately because of a special Minnesota law that targets under-aged drinkers who choose to drive.

Not a Drop:

The law in Minnesota states that no one under 21 may operate a motor vehicle with any detectable alcohol in their blood. Nevertheless, many underage drinkers have taken to the roads in recent years. In 2010 for example, there are 1,231 arrests under the “Not a Drop” law. By 2014 that number had declined to 541. Whether tough enforcement of the law or demographic changes or another social factor is behind that drop is unknown.

If you are facing DWI charges, you deserve representation by an attorney with experience handling DWI cases. You should contact us to discuss your case as soon as possible.