2008 marked most impaired driving arrests in county since 1995

Published 10:02 am Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mower County had 414 impaired driving arrests in 2008, the most in the county since data started being kept, according to state statistics.

The figure comes from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s latest report, released Wednesday. The state has been tracking DWI arrests since 1995, when Mower County had 208 arrests.

Of the 414 arrests, 47 of them were underage drivers — the highest number in the past five years for the county. That figure is also about three times higher than numbers from neighboring Steele and Freeborn counties, which had 17 and 15, respectively.

Overall, Mower County had nearly double the number of DWI arrests as the nearby counties, which are similar in size to Mower County. Steele County had 210, while Freeborn saw 168.

2004 – 296

2005 – 323

2006- 310

2007- 343

2008- 414

Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety

But the high numbers don’t necessarily mean local roads are less safe, Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi said.

Instead, the sheriff said the figures indicate that DWI crackdown has been more successful, thanks in large part to state Safe & Sober grants that help pay for officers to work overtime and focus on impaired driving.

“That’s many more drunk drivers not on the roads,” Amazi said of the arrests. “And that means safer roads.”

Mower County has averaged 316 DWI arrests per year since the state began tracking data. 2009 figures are expected to be released in the spring.