DUI arrests on the decline but still a problem for Fargo-Moorhead

Published: Sep. 3, 2017 at 11:29 PM CDT
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Football season is here and the Labor Day weekend is in full swing, which means people are going to be drinking, but choosing to drink and drive can cost you.

“The first thing to go is your judgement and that’s a fact,” says Sergeant Mike Bernier of the Fargo Police Department. “I can think back to all of the fatality crashes that I’ve been on almost all have been drunk driving related.”

Sergeant Bernier has been with the Fargo Police Department for 15 years, and says there have already been nearly 450 DUI arrests this year. “I’ve seen anywhere from 600 to over a thousand arrests in a year just in the City of Fargo,” he says.

But Fargo isn’t alone. The Moorhead Police Department responds to DUI and DWI calls on a daily basis, says Patrol Sergeant Clint Stephenson. He says anyone that chooses to drink and drive puts themselves and others at risk for injury, or even death. “I think any officer that has had any time on the street has dealt with a fatality or serious accident that’s been caused by a drunk driver,” he explained.

In fact, shortly after VNL interviewed Sergeant Stephenson, the Moorhead Police Department was called to a roll-over accident in South Moorhead near 40th Avenue S and 31st Street S.

Witnesses say a white sedan was stopped at a stop sign on 40th Avenue S when a blue Kia Soul driving between 60 and 80 miles per hour rear ended the sedan, causing it to flip end over end. The Kia Soul continue traveling down 40th Avenue S before striking a tree.

The driver of the blue Kia Soul attempted to flee on foot, but officers were able to locate him and conduct field sobriety tests. Sergeant Stephenson said, “the driver of the blue vehicle, a resident of Fargo, was placed under arrest for suspicion of DWI.”

Neither driver was seriously injured, despite the extensive damage to both cars.

And that wasn’t the first DWI arrest the Moorhead Police Department made on Sunday. Sergeant Stephenson says an officer arrested a man at 10:30AM for suspicion of drunk driving.

While the drivers in this accident were uninjured, not everyone is as lucky. Sergeant Bernier says accidents involving drunk drivers are some of the worst accidents he’s responded to, and Sergeant Stephenson says there’s still a lot of work to be done to decrease the number of drunk driving arrests each year.

And they both have some advice:

“Have a friend be your designated driver or use ride-share programs. Have fun, but be responsible.” - Sergeant Stephenson

“If nothing else, call a cab, call Uber, call whatever you gotta do, just plan ahead and get that ride home rather than driving home intoxicated.” – Sergeant Bernier