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State Patrol: Morning DWIs, 'We see them all the time'

Cody Charles Olson1 / 2
This crash scene was allegedly caused by a drunk driver at 7:15 a.m. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 2

Early morning drunken driving incidents are not unusual, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

An early morning accident last month in Hubbard County was something the Patrol "sees all the time."

An omnibus hearing has been set for Jan. 7 in the case of a Park Rapids man charged with drunken driving and Criminal Vehicular Operation after allegedly causing an injury accident at 7:15 in the morning.

The Nov. 12 crash sent Cody Charles Olson, 21, to the hospital along with another man he collided with on County Road 4. The criminal complaint states Olson veered across the highway and struck Gary Korsgaden of Park Rapids head-on. Korsgaden received minor injuries and was treated and released from St. Joseph's Area Health Services.

According to the complaint, Olson initially told officers he fell asleep at the wheel. Then Dep. Troy Christenson detected alcohol on his breath.

"Deputy Christenson asked Olson if he had consumed some alcohol," the complaint states. "Olson said that he drank the night before and had his last drink at about 1 a.m.," the complaint continues.

A portable breath test indicated an alcohol concentration of .109 percent, the complaint states.

Sgt. Curt Mowers of the Minnesota State Patrol wrote a recent column on early morning alcohol-related crashes.

"Alcohol-related crashes and DWI arrests do happen in the morning," he said. "We see it all the time. Those number of DWI arrests do not compare to what occurs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but surely it's something to be looked at and be aware of as we are going to have more crashes when we have more cars on the road and drivers are in a hurry.

"If we add fatigued drivers, with alcohol still in their system from the night before, crashes will increase," Mowers indicated.

"Keep in mind there are some factors that change the amount of alcohol absorbed - weight, food, man or woman, just to name a few, but we can still create an accurate guide," he said. 

In short, alcohol takes a long time to leave the body.

"The 'average' alcohol dissipation in humans is said to be about 0.015 percent per hour," Mowers said. "A cup of coffee or a few hours of sleep will not dissipate alcohol faster; one drink will leave your system in approximately one and one-half hour."

But when Mowers talks about a single drink, he's not talking about the type of stiff drink a person might mix at home.

"One drink for this formula is one 12-ounce domestic beer, 4 ounces of domestic wine or one shot [one ounce] or less of 80 proof alcohol in a cocktail," he said.

The stronger your drink is, the more time is needed for alcohol to dissipate in your system.

"If you drink heavily and go to sleep for only a short time, before heading out in the morning, alcohol will still be in your system and you are very likely impaired," Mowers said. "Thus, you are more at risk for crashing and hurting yourself and/or others. 

"Often, in these scenarios, fatigue is a huge factor weighing in also," he added. "Sleep with alcohol in your system is not good sleep and fewer than seven or eight hours a night is not recommended if trying to avoid fatigue."

Don't trust over-the-counter alcohol-blotting remedies or hangover concoctions that are simply urban legend.

Mowers said the only remedy is planning ahead.

Designate a driver to bring you home if you've had too much. That's the holiday mantra that's become year-round advice.

"There is zero tolerance for impaired drivers on our roadways," he reiterated.

A sample of Olson's blood was drawn and has been sent off for testing.

He faces four charges in the accident.

Korsgaden, who survived his scare, warned that drunken driving is becoming an epidemic at any time of the day and the public needs to demand accountability from drivers.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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