MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — Police in Minnetonka credit an alert motorist for putting them onto a suspected drunk driver last Friday who was delivering mail.
It was a tip from another motorist that aroused suspicion of a possible drunk driver along Excelsior Boulevard.
“It was a U.S. Postal Service vehicle,” said Minnetonka Police Chief Jeff Sebenaler. “This was a person out delivering mail.”
The chief identified the driver as 59-year-old Mary Elizabeth Sweet, a two-year post office employee.
She was on her mail route in Minnetonka when the alert tipster saw her nearly clip another car. The driver kept following Sweet and dialed 911 to report her erratic driving.
“They actually watched the vehicle strike a stop sign and then police arrived shortly after,” Sebenaler said.
The chief said that Sweet was arrested near Excelsior Boulevard and Clear Spring Road, where her mail delivery truck was finally stopped.
She was charged with a third-degree gross misdemeanor for failure to consent and a fourth-degree misdemeanor for driving under the influence.
A preliminary breath test registered a 0.297 reading – more than three times the legal blood alcohol limit.
She was arrested and her mail delivery completed by other employees, a U.S. Postal Service spokesperson said.
“That could have easily been somebody waiting at that stop sign on a bicycle – it could have been a real tragedy,” Sebenaler said.
Two rings of U.S. Postal Service keys were turned over to the local post office in Minnetonka.
Sebenaler says that daytime impaired driving arrests are increasing. That’s why he’s thankful that an alert motorist called in the unexpected vehicle.
“If you see something, call. We’re out there 24-7,” the chief said. “In this case you may have saved somebody’s life.”
Sweet was released from custody on Monday but didn’t answer the door at her Minnetonka home.
A postal service spokesman says that Sweet has been placed on non-duty status, meaning she’ll be off the route pending the outcome of the investigation.