Getting arrested for DWI can be an embarrassing and life-changing experience, and, believe it or not, even a life-saving one.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, what follows is what to expect:

• Be pulled over by a law enforcement officer.

• Take a field sobriety test.

• “Pat-down” at the jail.

• Blow into a Breathalyzer.

• Answer up to 500 personal questions.

• Take fingerprints.

• Have your photo entered into statewide law enforcement database.

• Strip down and shower.

• Provided jail-issued clothing, including undergarments.

• Spend time in a jail cell with other inmates; possibly more than 48 hours if arrested on a weekend

• Loss of license.

All of this should be a deterrent to driving impaired, but it wasn’t for the nearly 27,000 drivers arrested for DWI in Minnesota last year. The 16,301 arrests so far this year is ahead of last year’s pace.

That’s why officers, deputies and troopers from more than 300 agencies have been working extra DWI enforcement shifts starting Aug. 16 and continuing through Sept. 2.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides the overtime funds, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety coordinates the extra enforcement and education effort.

“We want people to understand that a DWI arrest is not only embarrassing, it’s a dangerous behavior that can cost someone their life,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “It’s so frustrating, because each of the 84 drunk driving-related deaths last year was preventable. It continues to baffle me why people choose to get behind the wheel after drinking when there are so many choices to get a sober ride. Let’s commit to making our roads safer by always lining up a sober ride.”

Crashes involving alcohol continue to change lives forever, contributing to 84 deaths in Minnesota in 2018, the most since 2015.

The Labor Day period is a working holiday for troopers, officers and deputies who are finding drunk drivers behind the wheel. The holiday period is the third worst for drunk drivers based on DWI arrests per hour at 3.8 (Halloween is the worst at 4 per hour). Law enforcement officers consistently arrest more than 400 people for drunk driving during the long holiday weekend.

The consequences of a DWI conviction include loss of license for up to a year, thousands of dollars in costs and possible jail time.

Repeat DWI offenders, as well as first-time offenders arrested at 0.16 and above alcohol-concentration level, must use ignition interlock in order to regain legal driving privileges or face at least one year without a driver’s license.

Offenders with three or more offenses are required to use interlock for three to six years, or they will never regain driving privileges.

If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver, use a safe, alternative transportation option or stay at the location of the celebration.

Offer to be a designated driver or be available to pick up a loved one anytime, anywhere. If you see an impaired person about to get behind the wheel, get them a safe ride home – the best defense against a drunk driver.

Call 911 when witnessing impaired driving behavior. Be prepared to provide the location, license plate number and observed dangerous behavior.

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– Photo courtesy of the Internet Public Domain