There may be a glimmer of hope on Minnesota roads in an otherwise dreary time of increasing traffic fatalities: DWI arrests dropped 31% during extra summer patrols.

During the Labor Day DWI extra patrol campaign from Aug. 20 through Sept. 6, law enforcement saw a 31% drop in DWI arrests compared to the previous year, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety announced Wednesday, Sept. 15.

This year, officers, deputies and troopers arrested 1,147 drivers for driving impaired compared with 1,649 DWI arrests during the same period in 2020.

A total of 305 law enforcement agencies from across the state participated in the extra end-of-summer and Labor Day enforcement campaign.

While the decrease could be seen as a positive, even one impaired driver on the road is one too many, according to those with the office.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

In Southeastern Minnesota, the Rochester Police Department made 40 arrests during the time period while the Minnesota State Patrol District 2100 made 18 arrests.

“We are glad to get these people taken off the roadway, but 18 is also a pretty significant number,” Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Troy Christianson, said. “We have a lot of work to do in Southeast Minnesota to continue to educate people about the dangers of driving impaired.”

The Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office was among one of 12 agencies that reported a DWI arrest where a person had a blood alcohol content of 0.3 or more. The legal limit for driving is 0.08. The sheriff’s office stopped a driver who had a blood alcohol content of 0.33, according to the news release.

Preliminary numbers from the state report that 327 people have died this year on Minnesota roads compared with 258 reported this time last year. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 35 people died in alcohol-related fatalities. That compares with 52 in 2020 and 44 in 2019. To date, 80 have died in alcohol-related fatalities in 2021 compared with 98 in 2020 and 80 in 2019.