Who are Minnesota’s drunk drivers?

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety today released its annual report on drunk driving in the state, saying although the number of people killed in accidents involving drunks increased in 2015 (nearly 100 died), it’s still less than a decade ago, signaling that perhaps public attitudes toward drinking and driving are changing.

That’s a pretty challenging goal in a state where one of every nine residents has a drunk driving incident on her/his record. Considering that many Minnesota residents are too young to drive, the number of drivers with a DWI remains incredible: 1 in 7.

There are some interesting factoids in the report, including the difficulty prosecutors have getting a conviction in some counties.

For example, in Kanabec County only 54 percents of arrests result in a conviction. The numbers are nearly as low in Pipestone and Murray Counties (47 percent). Is it a rural thing? The evidence doesn’t suggest so. Cook (96 percent), Wilkin (93 percent) and Watonwan (90 percent) are all rural counties with high conviction rates.

In Wisconsin, incidentally, 93 percent of the citations for drunk driving result in a conviction if the case makes it to court.

Other conclusions:

  • Drunk driving accidents are mostly a guy thing. Seventy-two percent of drunk driving accidents are caused by men. More than half are caused by men 20-24 years old.
  • Forty percent of the impaired drivers in the state are at least two-timers. Of those who are picked up for DWI a second time, about half go on to get a third.
  • August is the biggest month for drunk driving arrests. December is the lowest.
  • While 1 in 9 residents statewide has a DWI conviction, the numbers are much higher in some counties. It’s 1 in 4 in Mahnomen, 1 in 6 in Mille Lacs, and 1 in 6 in Cass. By contrast, it’s 1 in 12 in Stevens County.
  • Wisconsin doesn’t make the percentage of drivers with DWIs quite so readily known. But, using data from several sources, it appears that of the 4.1 million people with drivers licenses, 14% — also one in 7 — has a DWI. So, at least in this category, Minnesotans and Wisconsinites are joined at the lip.
  • 1,328 drivers have 10 or more DWIs on their record. There is one person out there — somewhere — who has 26.

Here’s the full report.

Related: How lucky we are: How people died 100+ years ago, and how we die today (Salon)