Sharp-eyed workers at two Hardee's restaurants helped Rapid City police nab a pair of suspected drunken-drivers last weekend after the employees noticed impaired customers at their drive-through windows.
Rapid City police were contacted twice on Saturday after the workers saw what they believed were intoxicated customers driving through the pick-up lane.
Around 3 a.m. Saturday, police were called after Summer Falls, 23, of Rapid City went through the drive-through at the East North Street Hardee's. Falls was later arrested on a DUI charge.
Then, an employee at the North Haines Avenue Hardee's called police just before 10:30 p.m. Saturday after serving David West, 53, of Rapid City, who was later arrested.
Those arrests were part of a busy weekend for local police who arrested 18 impaired drivers over the weekend.
Beyond the tips from Hardee's employees, police made the arrests after a crash and viewing erratic driving, officials said.
Many of those arrested were cited for first-offense DUI. Those arrested ranged in age from 18 to 63. A few had an open alcohol container in their vehicle. An 18-year-old was caught with marijuana. A concealed weapon charge was filed against one driver who had a knife.
All but one of the drivers arrested were Rapid City residents. The majority of the arrests occurred in the late night or early morning hours of Friday and Saturday and into Sunday morning. One exception was the Saturday afternoon crash of a car into a home on North Maple Avenue.
The crash sent the car’s driver, Jamie Tom, 20, and a passenger in her car to the hospital with minor injuries.
Assistant Police Chief Karl Jegeris said it’s hard to pinpoint why officers were so busy over the weekend, unless it was the weekend-warm-up or maybe it was due to more traffic on the roads from the Black Hills Stock Show or the Super Bowl.
"Looking at all of the DUI arrests from the weekend, it doesn’t seem like there’s a common thread,” said Jegeris. "But, it seems to me that the break in the weather after a long period of cold weather has some relevance to crime and alcohol consumption in public places. When the weather breaks, we see more people out and about.”
Several of the drivers stopped over the weekend caught an officer’s attention by speeding or ignoring other traffic laws, according to police spokeswoman Tarah Heupel.
On the weekends and at other busy times in the community, the Rapid City Police Department has two patrol officers who focus specifically on spotting impaired drivers.
“They work the late-night hours,” Jegeris said. The department puts more officers on the streets over the weekends than during the week, he said.
“Our staffing is purposely scheduled strategically with calls for service and crime,” Jegeris said. “So we’re going to have a lot more officers on during a weekend day than we do mid-week.”