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DWI arrests down for this year's WE Fest

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — The number of drunken driving arrests was down significantly for this year's WE Fest, with no serious or fatal crashes reported in or around the event, the Minnesota State Patrol reported Monday, Aug. 7.

The 35th annual country music festival featured big-name artists on its stages Thursday through Saturday, though the gates opened for campers on Tuesday, with local acts playing Tuesday and Wednesday.

From Tuesday, Aug. 1, to Saturday, Aug. 5, state troopers made eight driving while intoxicated arrests, down from 13 in 2016 and 10 in 2015.

As few as 10 to 15 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for authorities to make over 50 DWI arrests during WE Fest, patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said.

Now, festival attendees are lining up designated drivers. The last five years have averaged 10 DWI arrests per year, he said, though 2011 saw 25 DWI arrests during the festival.

"That's just goes to show that people are making smarter choices. They knew that we would be out and about," Grabow said. "People are getting a lot smarter ... which we like to see."

Troopers also found 37 drivers without a valid driver's license (either revoked, canceled or suspended), the patrol reported.

There were 1,469 traffic stops recorded this year, with a mixture of citations and warnings issued. That included 175 stops for seat belt violations, seven for child restraint violations, 646 for speeding, 16 for failure to move over, 619 for equipment issues, 464 for other moving violations, seven for texting and eight for inattentive driving, the patrol said.

There were 16 arrests of people sought on warrants and other violations, the patrol said.

Aside from DWI arrests, Grabow said the numbers for other citations and arrests have been consistent over the years.

"There's still obviously room for improvement, but to get through an event of that size, in that small of an area, with that much traffic" without serious incidents is a major goal accomplished, he said. "We're making progress. That's what we like to see."

The number of citations hasn't been tallied yet, the patrol said. In 2016, there were 1,121 traffic stops, with 256 citations issued. In 2015, there were 814 traffic stops, with 250 citations issued.