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Some real buzz killers

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, December 12th, 2013

It is said the average person drives drunk or buzzed 60 times before they are caught, meaning there is only one arrest for every 27,000 miles driven while drunk. 
The Custer County Sheriff’s Department is working hard to make sure Custer County residents have much, much worse odds than that.
The department has been working hard to nab drunk drivers in Custer County, already arresting nearly double—94—the amount of drunk drivers the department arrested all of last year—53.
Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said the department has put additional emphasis on arresting drunk drivers this year, thanks in large part to highway safety funds the department receives through a grant. Part of the stipulation of receiving the funds is that sheriff’s department deputies must make a certain amount of contacts with drivers. Combine that with the department’s decision to get tough on drunk drivers, and it’s easy to see why it’s not a matter of if, but when, drunk drivers in the county will get caught.
“We’re going to be out, campaigning on that to get DUIs,” Wheeler said. “We are getting more aggressive.”
That’s fine by the Custer County States Attorney Office.
Deputy States Attorney Matt Brown said the biggest improvement he has seen out of local law enforcement this year has been the enforcement of DUIs.
“It really has made a huge difference in enforcement. Everybody out there talks about how if they drink and drive they might actually get in trouble. Hopefully, that curbs some of it,” Brown said. “We would love to have no arrests for DUIs because they don’t exist. But, as long as they do, we should be out there making it a priority.”
Statistics show alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion a year, including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in quality of life losses. The societal costs of alcohol-related crashes in the United States averaged $1 per drink consumed. People other than the drinking driver pay 60 cents per drink.
When someone is arrested for a first-offense DUI in Custer County, they are generally allowed to bond out in Custer to the custody of a friend or family member. However, someone who is arrested for subsequent DUIs is transported to jail in Rapid City. Wheeler and Brown estimate 25 to 50 percent of DUI arrests in Custer County are repeat offenders.
DUI arrests are also without stereotype. From doctors and lawyers to blue collar laborers, all segments of society are equally represented in DUI arrests. Officials say there isn’t a significant spike in DUIs depending on the time of year, as people are just as likely to drive drunk in the winter as they are the summer months.
Some of the DUI arrests in Custer County are so strange they border on the unbelievable. One person was out on bond for one DUI and received another a week later. On one DUI call, the driver was arrested and a friend who came to the scene to assist their friend was also drunk and was subsequently arrested for DUI. If that wasn’t enough, a third person came to the scene looking for the first two offenders, and—you guessed it—was drunk and arrested for DUI.

It is said the average person drives drunk or buzzed 60 times before they are caught, meaning there is only one arrest for every 27,000 miles driven while drunk. 

The Custer County Sheriff’s Department is working hard to make sure Custer County residents have much, much worse odds than that.

The department has been working hard to nab drunk drivers in Custer County, already arresting nearly double—94—the amount of drunk drivers the department arrested all of last year—53.

Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said the department has put additional emphasis on arresting drunk drivers this year, thanks in large part to highway safety funds the department receives through a grant. Part of the stipulation of receiving the funds is that sheriff’s department deputies must make a certain amount of contacts with drivers. Combine that with the department’s decision to get tough on drunk drivers, and it’s easy to see why it’s not a matter of if, but when, drunk drivers in the county will get caught.

“We’re going to be out, campaigning on that to get DUIs,” Wheeler said. “We are getting more aggressive.”

That’s fine by the Custer County States Attorney Office.

Deputy States Attorney Matt Brown said the biggest improvement he has seen out of local law enforcement this year has been the enforcement of DUIs.

“It really has made a huge difference in enforcement. Everybody out there talks about how if they drink and drive they might actually get in trouble. Hopefully, that curbs some of it,” Brown said. “We would love to have no arrests for DUIs because they don’t exist. But, as long as they do, we should be out there making it a priority.”

Statistics show alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion a year, including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in quality of life losses. The societal costs of alcohol-related crashes in the United States averaged $1 per drink consumed. People other than the drinking driver pay 60 cents per drink.

When someone is arrested for a first-offense DUI in Custer County, they are generally allowed to bond out in Custer to the custody of a friend or family member. However, someone who is arrested for subsequent DUIs is transported to jail in Rapid City. Wheeler and Brown estimate 25 to 50 percent of DUI arrests in Custer County are repeat offenders.

DUI arrests are also without stereotype. From doctors and lawyers to blue collar laborers, all segments of society are equally represented in DUI arrests. Officials say there isn’t a significant spike in DUIs depending on the time of year, as people are just as likely to drive drunk in the winter as they are the summer months.

Some of the DUI arrests in Custer County are so strange they border on the unbelievable. One person was out on bond for one DUI and received another a week later. On one DUI call, the driver was arrested and a friend who came to the scene to assist their friend was also drunk and was subsequently arrested for DUI. If that wasn’t enough, a third person came to the scene looking for the first two offenders, and—you guessed it—was drunk and arrested for DUI.

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