Rapid City police made 19 DUI arrests last weekend, which means the city will likely surpass last year’s mark of 845 DUI arrests.
As of Dec. 15, the police department says it has made 813 DUI arrests. Since then, police made 19 arrests on the weekend before Christmas in addition to last weekend's total for an unofficial count of 851 DUI arrests in 2012, a total that does not include New Year's Eve or any weekdays in the past two weeks.
Police make 10 to 12 DUI arrests on a typical weekend, according to police spokeswoman Tarah Heupel.
Police Chief Steve Allender said Monday he couldn't say for sure what caused last weekend's high number of arrests, though he said his officers were able to spend more time on patrol.
"A lot of people drank this weekend, plus our officers had enough discretionary time to find them," he said. "If the officers were overrun with emergency calls, they would not have had as much time to pay attention to the drunk drivers."
Allender said DUI arrests have steadily declined in recent years, after peaking in the mid to late 2000s.
"We were well over 1,000 for a few years, so this is a pretty good downturn," he said.
Allender deflected criticism that his department spends too much time looking for drunken drivers. Those people, he said, are the biggest threat to Rapid City drivers.
"If you're driving a car, you're driving past drunk drivers. So we keep finding as many of them as we can," he said.