Minnesota residents should know that driving when impaired by alcohol or drugs is not only illegal, but also extremely dangerous. Sadly, too many people seem not to care about their safety or the safety of others as the state continues to struggle with deaths caused by drunk drivers.

Records from the National Highway Safety Administration indicate that 2018 saw a significant jump in the number of people killed in Minnesota in crashes in which alcohol was a contributing factor.

Drunk driving death trends in Minnesota

In 2017, drunk drivers claimed the lives of 84 people across Minnesota. Those deaths represented 23% of all deaths occurring in motor vehicle accidents that year. In 2018, Minnesota recorded 105 drunk driving deaths, accounting for 28% of all vehicular fatalities that year.

In looking back at the decade spanning 2009 through 2018, the data shows the persistent problems that drunk drivers cause to Minnesota residents. In 2009, alcohol was a factor in one out of every four accident deaths. Five years later, in 2013, that rate remained consistent only to jump to 31% the following year. Three consecutive years of decline resulted to 28% in 2015, 24% in 2016 and then 23% in 2017 before the most recent increase.

Minnesota laws may not be tough enough

According to the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, a first driving while intoxicated offense might find a person spending time in jail and losing their driving privileges for up to a full year. Penalties like that should make people think twice before driving after drinking yet the traffic fatality data shows that does not happen often enough.