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Statewide drunken-driving crackdown included Ely driver too drunk to be booked

The Minnesota State Patrol on Wednesday reported the results of a recent two-week crackdown on drunken and other unsafe driving that included an Ely woman so drunk when she was arrested that officers had to wait until the next morning to formally book her into jail.

The woman in Ely recorded a 0.24 blood alcohol concentration, three times the legal limit; the Patrol reported that she said she was driving at the time because her boyfriend was too drunk to drive.

Ely police told the News Tribune that the woman was "unable to cooperate" in her booking process so they placed her in a jail cell until she sobered up enough to finish being booked.

The State Patrol reported 17 drivers arrested during the saturation effort who had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.30 and over, nearly four times the legal limit of 0.08, including one man in Fillmore County in southern Minnesota who hit 0.38.

That man was arrested after driving an SUV trailering a boat and wavering into oncoming traffic on U.S. Highway 52. A short time after 911 calls were made to report the erratic driving, police found the vehicle pulled over on the shoulder of Highway 52 with the driver passed out in the driver's seat along with several open rum containers.

The 17-day enhanced enforcement and education efforts included more than 300 law enforcement offices statewide from Aug. 18 to Sept. 3 and were coordinated through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety, with overtime paid with federal money received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Officers, deputies and troopers arrested 1,370 drivers for DWI, compared with 1,351 arrests during last year's campaign.

Several people driving with their children in the vehicle were arrested for DWI, including a mother in Cass County traveling with her 2-, 3- and 4-year-old children who was arrested after blowing a 0.30 blood alcohol content.

A motorcyclist suffered serious injuries in Rice County when he was thrown off his bike after crashing into a ditch and hitting a sign. He was charged with 3rd degree DWI after blowing a 0.29 BAC.

Other arrests included:

• A man in Rice County who led police on a six-mile pursuit and was arrested for his 10th DWI.

• A driver who hit a Lino Lakes squad car around 12:30 p.m. one day. The driver recorded a 0.26 BAC and had an open bottle of alcohol.

• A driver in Minneapolis who was arrested for a second DWI offense in two years by the same officer.

• Several drivers who were under the influence of drugs, including a person in Jordan who was stopped after a hit-and-run and had 50 doses of LSD in the vehicle.

The western Twin Cities State Patrol office led the state with 78 DWI arrests during the crackdown. The Rochester State Patrol office led greater Minnesota with 27 DWI arrests over the 17 days. Duluth police reported 18 DWI arrests during that period.

Anyone arrested for DWI in Minnesota faces the loss of their driver's 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 blood-alcohol concentrations of 0.16 and above, 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 permanently lose driving privileges.

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