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South Dakota’s per se limit leads to many drunk driving charges

There are multiple reasons why police officers might arrest someone in South Dakota for an impaired driving offense. Sometimes, a driver has done something obviously dangerous in traffic. Certain driving behaviors, like swerving or operating a vehicle at under the limit without any adverse weather factors can serve as a signal to police officers that a driver is very likely under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Other times, officers begin to suspect that someone may have had too much to drink because of how they behave during an interaction. Whether an officer has pulled someone over for an unrelated issue or needs to put together a police report following a crash, they may begin to suspect someone violated state law and could later arrest them. South Dakota’s per se alcohol laws are one of the most common reasons that people get arrested for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense in South Dakota.

What is a per se infraction?

In South Dakota, as throughout the United States, drunk driving laws impose two separate standards on drivers. They should not operate a vehicle while noticeably affected by alcohol or other mind-altering substances. They also have to avoid driving when they have exceeded the per se limit for their measurable blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

A per se law makes a certain action a criminal infraction on its own. When it comes to a per se drunk driving accusation, officers can arrest someone just for being over the legal limit even if there is no reason to believe that the alcohol in their system directly contributed to poor driving or a crash. Officers don’t need to prove that someone showed signs of intoxication at the wheel, only that their test results indicated that they were over the legal limit.

In other words, someone who passes field sobriety tests but failed a chemical breath test could easily still end up facing drunk driving charges. Thankfully, there are ways to fight back against accusations of a per se impaired driving offense in South Dakota. Seeking legal guidance and analyzing the evidence that the state has is often a good starting point for those hoping to fight back against DWI charges.