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Ride Along: What Do Troopers Look For On DWI Patrol?

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As your night is filled with trick-or-treaters, the roadways are filled with state troopers.

Halloween is one of the busiest nights on Minnesota roads for the state patrol.

And you might be curious about what troopers are watching for when they pull over an impaired driver.

For two nights, WCCO-TV road along with Lt. Chris Erickson of the Minnesota State Patrol as he showed us what catches his eye, and the safety issues involved with tailing a drunk driver.

“My biggest passion is getting impaired drivers off the roads,” said Lt. Erickson.

And part of his motivation comes from a friend, whose girlfriend and baby were killed by a drunk driver.

“He’s a good friend that I still do stuff with and I’ve seen the effects of what it’s done to him,” he said.

On the road, it’s clear what he’s watching for.

“Some weaving in the lane, some hugging the lane lines. Drivers who can’t multi-task and are speeding, I take a close look at them,” Erickson said.

The first shift yields plenty of pull-overs. Some even go through sobriety tests, but no DWIs are issued.

Then, last Friday night, Lt. Erickson received a tip of an erratic driver. It lead him to a 68-year-old woman dressed in a clown suit.

She pulls into her own driveway where she fails a field sobriety test.

“Contrary to what many people think, you can get a DWI in your own driveway,” said Lt. Erickson. “The main thing is she was driving impaired and driving erratically before she tried to pull into her garage.”

The woman is booked, and it’s not long before he’s on to another stop where a driver fails to recite the A,B,Cs. And then he fails a breathalyzer.

“You are .154, so you are almost twice the legal limit,” he said.

It’s all in one night’s work for one state trooper — whose eyes never leave the car in front of him.

“The bottom line is, if we can find a reason to stop someone and check and see if they are impaired, we are going to do it,” Erickson said.

Lt. Erickson said a lot of DWIs are actually issued in the morning, when people think they have slept off the alcohol.

He says the State Patrol’s goal is to treat all drivers with respect no matter what the situation.

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