Officer Dedicated to Get Impaired Drivers Off the Roads

December 17, 2018 07:32 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- A new DWI Officer is cruising through the streets of Olmsted County. Deputy Sheriff Zach Wagner took over the position this July.

“My concentration is finding impaired drivers. The idea is the more contacts I make out on the road, the more likely I am to find impaired drivers and get them off the street,” he said.


In 2015, Olmsted County received a state-funded grant to create a position for a DWI officer. Through that grant, Wagner is required to work at least two Fridays and two Saturdays a month between 5 PM and 5 AM.

During the holidays, his job becomes extra important.

According to the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Department, between November 22nd, 2017 and December 31st, 2017, there were 19 crashes in Olmsted County involving alcohol or drug impairment.

During that same time period, 98 impaired drivers were arrested in Olmsted County.

“When you are in that kind of shape, you would think maybe you shouldn’t be driving,” he said.

According to Toward Zero Deaths, 72 people in Minnesota died from drunk driving related crashes in 2017.

When you compare that to 129 deaths in 2008, the state is improving according to Jessica Schleck with TZD.

"Last year marks the 15th anniversary of the TZD program. When TZD began in 2003, we were seeing an increase in traffic-related fatalities. 655 people were killed on our roads alone. Last year that number was 358 so we know what we are doing is working," she said.

Part of that includes increased enforcement around the holidays.

"More than 300 agencies across the state are participating in this extra enforcement campaign," she said.  

For Wagner, looking for impaired drivers is a year-round job.

Since he started this position in July, he has arrested more than 60 people for driving under the influence.

The previous officer conducted about 100 DWI arrests a year, so Wagner is on track to have even more.

"You never know how much of a difference you are making but you know you are making a difference,"


Talia Milavetz

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