Deputies for DWI enforcement want their presence to be known

Blue Earth County deputies lead extra DWI enforcement under a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety.
Extra DWI enforcement is on Minnesota roads, and these cops want their presence to be known.
Updated: Nov. 24, 2022 at 6:00 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, in the last five years, 49 people died in drunk-driving related crashes during the holiday season, specifically a day before Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve.

From 2017-2021, the total number of alcohol-related crashes was 20,173 in Minnesota.

That’s why extra DWI enforcement is on Minnesota roads, and these cops want their presence to be known.

“We’re not hiding at all,” said Blue Earth County deputy sheriff Chris Arkell. “Everybody knows that there’s cops out there stopping cars and that might change one person’s mind that’s at the bar: ‘Hey, I shouldn’t drive tonight, I don’t want to get pulled over.’ And that could save somebody’s life.”

Blue Earth County deputies Arkell and Adam Suckow lead extra DWI enforcement under a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety.

The grant has aided Blue Earth County deputies since 2019, and it’s recently been renewed after a two-year period.

“With COVID, we saw obviously a decrease in DWIs, but we saw it was an increase in the blood alcohol level of the offenders,” said Arkell. “So, instead of your average 0.08, we’re seeing 0.2 or 0.3 -- a lot higher levels of blood alcohol content.”

DWI charges aren’t limited to alcohol.

It can be issued for driving while under the influence of THC products, over-the-counter drugs, or illegal drug use.

“When Deputy Suckow and I first started this, we were getting high numbers of DWI arrests,” said Arkell. “Recently, in the last year and a half or so, even after we started after COVID, our numbers have gone down significantly. Initially, we were kind of concerned that we weren’t doing a good enough job, but hindsight we’re looking at this is a positive thing. We’re still making a lot of traffic stops or not seeing impaired drivers as often.”