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Anticipate sobriety checkpoints across South Dakota this summer

Some people drink daily, and so local police departments are on the watch for impaired drivers all the time. Still, there are some times when particularly intensive enforcement efforts are made. Police officers are often more watchful for signs of impairment late at night and less worried about it during lunch hours, even though people can overindulge at any time of day, for example.

There are also seasonal fluctuations in drunk driving collisions and enforcement efforts. The summer often experiences an increase in police presence on the roads because of a statistical increase in drunk driving crashes. The major summer holidays, including the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day, are associated with increased drunk driving crashes. That means that there will be not only more police officers patrolling on holidays and summer weekends this year, but also likely more sobriety checkpoints as well.

Sobriety checkpoints are a popular law enforcement tool

South Dakota, like many other states, allows police departments to conduct sobriety checkpoints, which some people call driving under the influence (DUI) roadblocks. By briefly interacting with all of the drivers on a particular road, officers people in a short amount of time while causing relatively minimal inconvenience for everyone else. Departments can sometimes arrest dozens of people in just a few hours, which can boost their arrest rates.

Although people often claim that checkpoints are a violation of their rights, the federal Supreme Court has affirmed the legality of sobriety checkpoints. South Dakota police departments regularly announce them ahead of time and lawfully conduct these mass-screening efforts.

Those that encounter checkpoints still have rights, even if officers arrest them. The frequent use of breath tests and the intent to locate intoxicated drivers can sometimes lead to inaccurate test results or officers jumping to the wrong conclusion about someone’s behavior. Those worried about how a DUI charge that follows a checkpoint arrest might affect their future may be in a position to develop a defense against those charges.

Discussing the circumstances leading to DUI charges with a lawyer can be a good starting point for those who have been stopped for impaired driving and who want to avoid a criminal conviction.