The Rapid City Police Department is noticing something dramatic when it comes to drinking while driving. Over the past six months, DUI arrests have dropped 20 percent compared to the same time periods in 2017, 2016, and 2015.
What could be the cause?
It’s not as if Rapid City police officers have stopped traffic enforcement. About the same number of traffic stops have been conducted this year as years past. But those traffic stops have resulted in fewer DUI arrests.
Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris calls the downturn “remarkable.” He believes there may be several factors at work. One would be consistent enforcement. Lieutenant Scott Sitts agrees.
“I think our strict DUI enforcement plays a role in getting that message out. I think public safety announcements. I think the campaigns against it,” said Sitts.
But there may be something else going on. It’s not just law enforcement efforts that are having this effect. There are probably other factors at work as well. One is that is, in plain words, simply not cool anymore to drink and drive.
“I think there’s been a cultural change and a different view on that aspect over the last 20 years, and I think that plays a large role in it,” said Sitts.
Sitts credits the role of such organizations as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers in creating an attitude shift against drinking and driving. And then there is technology that has made it easier to get a ride home.
“Apps such as Lyft, being readily available and something that make it an easy decision: an easy way to catch a safe ride home,” said Sitts.
The Rapid City Police Department says these new developments won’t be a justification to back off on DUI enforcement, and that apprehension of drunk drivers will continue to be a priority.