In some states, there are multiple kinds of charges that prosecutors can file related to intoxication while driving. Certain states have separate charges for drugged driving as opposed to those driving while under the influence of alcohol, for example. But in South Dakota, the driving Under the Influence (DUI) statute actually addresses both types of impairment.
Police officers can arrest people both for alcohol intoxication or drug impairment, and then prosecutors can pursue DUI charges against those motorists. Those accused of violating the impaired driving statute in South Dakota may have an easier time planning a defense strategy if they understand how the state defines drugged driving in particular.
What do the criminal statutes say?
There is a very clear definition of alcohol impairment. Police officers can arrest anyone who seems unable to safely drive because of their alcohol consumption and also anyone whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the statutory per se limit. For most drivers, the per se limit for alcohol will be 0.08%, although it will be lower for some types of licenses.
However, there is no per se limit for controlled substances and prohibited drugs. Instead, the state defines drugged driving as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a substance that makes it unsafe for them to drive. In the case of prohibited drugs, there is a zero-tolerance policy for any amount of those substances in a driver’s bloodstream. Depending on the substance, that might mean that a drug test results in someone’s arrest multiple days after consuming a specific substance.
The impairment rules apply not just to illegal drugs but also to prescription medications and even over-the-counter drugs that might affect someone’s ability to drive safely. Some motorists will admit to using certain substances before driving, likely because they are under the impression that they have not violated the law. Someone cannot claim that they were under the legal limit as a defense to drug impairment DUI charges because the state does not have a specific per se limit.
Thankfully, there are other defense strategies that could work, including challenging the legality of testing or the accuracy of the results. Exploring the situation that led to someone’s arrest can help them better respond to DUI charges.