With squad car lights flashing and sirens blaring behind her, St. Paul police say, a woman pulled into a McDonald's drive-through in St. Paul and ordered a Big N' Tasty burger.
She had time to eat a couple of fries before police — who had been ordering her to get out of her car — caught up to her and arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving Sunday.
Erica Toy Marie Ballard, 26, said she saw the cruiser at the McDonald's on Marion Street, heard an officer honking the horn and figured she was getting pulled over because her driver's license was revoked.
"I thought they were fixing to mess with me," Ballard said Monday during an interview at the Ramsey County Jail. "I was fixing to get something to eat."
Ballard said she couldn't get out of the drive-through because there were cars behind her and in front of her.
Police spotted her car speeding out of the White Castle parking lot on Rice Street, near University Avenue, without its headlights on about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday. The driver went through a red light and didn't signal turns, the complaint said.
The car continued on to the McDonald's at Marion Street and University Avenue "while being followed by police with emergency lights and sirens activated," according to a police report. "Ballard came to a stop in the McDonald's drive through and was attempting to order food when she was taken into custody."
The incident was unusual, and serious at the time, because police didn't know what they were dealing with, said Peter Panos, police spokesman.
"After the fact, it gives you a pretty good laugh," he said. "It will be a story the officer will want to tell around for a while."
But Ballard didn't find the situation amusing. She contests much of what the police report and complaint say happened. And she's worried about her health. Ballard, who described herself as a Century College student and mother of five young children, said she is scheduled to have heart surgery today