ROCHESTER, Minn. - The day before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest nights for drinking of the whole year. From November 27th to December 28th, Minnesota law enforcement is stepping up DWI enforcement. This time of year, college students are home for the holidays and more people are attending holiday parties.
Two full-time dedicated DWI officers will be patrolling Olmsted County during peak drinking and driving times. The Rochester Police Department is one of 18 Minnesota law enforcement agencies to receive funds for a dedicated DWI officer from the Office of Traffic Safety.
KIMT News 3's Annalise Johnson rode along with Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Mitch Elzen to see what a weekend overnight shift is like for a trooper.
"My only goal is to remove drunk drivers or drugged drivers, impaired drivers," says Trooper Elzen. Getting drunk drivers off the road is a mission close to his heart. In 1982, his father was violently struck by a drunk driver. His injuries affect him to this day. To date, he's had 25 surgeries and 7 hip replacement related to his collision, walks with a cane, and his back and ankle are fused.
"I don't think people really think about the consequences that come along with those decisions," explains Elzen. "You cause that crash, now you have consequences coming down the line the rest of your life, so it's very important to get them off the road before they crash and hurt themselves or hurt another family."
Elzen arrested 150 people for driving impaired in 2018.
In the past 5 years, 126,000 people have been arrested for DWI in Minnesota. 12,000 of those happened during the holiday season.
In August, KIMT News 3's Annalise Johnson went through the jail intake process at the Dakota County Jail following a DWI. Click here for that story.