11 nabbed during drunken driving crackdown

Published 12:12 pm Thursday, January 8, 2015

Local law enforcement officers arrested 11 people for impaired driving — including one who was over five times the legal limit — during an increased four-week holiday enforcement effort. 

The Albert Lea Police Department and Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office conducted extra patrols on the streets and highways in an effort to remove impaired drivers from Nov. 26 through Dec. 27.

One woman, Rhonda Oquist, 48, had a blood alcohol concentration of .45 after she reportedly inadvertently pulled into the driveway of an off-duty state trooper in Hartland, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The legal limit in Minnesota is .08.

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Her impairment level was the highest in the state during the four-week campaign.

In addition to the 11 impaired driving arrests, one person was arrested for underage drinking, and five people were arrested for felony-level drug violations, the release stated.

Officers and deputies gave 27 citations for driving with a suspended, canceled or revoked driver’s license and 14 citations for insurance violations. There were five seat belt violations and 27 speed violations.

Officers and deputies stopped 581 vehicles during the enforcement period.

The increased enforcement was made possible through a grant from the Office of Traffic Safety and Toward Zero Deaths campaign.

As part of the grant, officers put up high visibility warning signs on East Main Street by Prospect Avenue in Albert Lea, and numerous other signs were posted by area businesses in an effort to raise awareness to impaired driving. Information about the enforcement was also posted on the city’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths initiative.

The program aims to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota, focusing on four areas to reduce crashes: education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.