Sober Squad Response: Edina’s DWI Arrest Rates Remain Higher than All Other Minnesota Cities’

Simone Vaillancourt, page editor

According to the Edina Police Department (EPD), there were 476 arrests made in Edina in 2017 for driving under the influence. This number has been steadily increasing over the past several years, and has now surpassed the yearly DWI arrest average in cities like St. Paul, Bloomington, and Duluth. The increasing number of arrests is due to the Edina Police Department’s continued dedication to cracking down on driving under the influence.

EPD sergeant Brian Hubbard is in charge of overseeing the department’s DWI arrest efforts. For many years we have been aggressive with encouraging good driving behaviors. We continue to keep officers trained on how to detect impaired drivers,” Hubbard said. The EPD now has an officer who is solely dedicated to DWI arrests and prevention, and, according to Hubbard, “I don’t see us moving away from the importance of traffic safety anytime soon.”

Matthew Nilsen, adviser to the Edina High School Sober Squad, is in full support of the EPD and their commitment to solving this problem. “I think it is great police work. Drunk driving is one of the most serious threats to the everyday well being as citizens of Edina. I live here with my wife and two children and applaud the EPD for their work,” he said. “I know a lot of people complain about the number of speeding tickets that the EPD hand out. But when they do that they can catch more impaired drivers.”

According to Nilsen, the dangers of drunk driving are significant and therefore important to address in high school. Sober Squad is actively involved in the mock crash each year, which Nilsen says is a great way to teach the students about the consequences of driving under the influence. “[The students bring] the crashed car that is often placed outside the front door of the high school as a reminder about the potential danger of drinking and driving,” he said.

Gretchen Gilbert, a member of Sober Squad, is in agreement with Nilsen. Gilbert acknowledges that driving under the influence is a problem, and she commends the EPD for their efforts in preventing further incidents. “The problem will never go away until people take a step back and realize, you may think you can drive safe, but not only are you putting yourself in danger but others as well,” she said. “But shout out to the Edina Police Department for cracking down on [the problem] and keeping us safe.”