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The summer months traditionally inspire an increase in DUI enforcement

The summer months often see more people out on the roads than usual. College and high school students who have their driver’s licenses do not have to attend classes and may spend the summer socializing. People with families often arrange for vacations during the summer months, which might entail driving across South Dakota to visit attractions or family elsewhere. There are also summer holidays that lead to people traveling for barbecues or fireworks displays.  Some of those drivers may end up accused of intoxication at the wheel.

Technically, people drink and drive throughout the year. Police departments in South Dakota and elsewhere constantly watch for warning signs of intoxicated drivers. However, the risk of a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest may be slightly higher in the summer months due to the known increase in drunk driving deaths during the warmest part of the year.

2023 data shows an increase in summer crashes

When researchers evaluate collisions, the trends that connect crashes can help guide both law enforcement policy and the adjustment of existing statutes by lawmakers. In 2023, the summer months saw more fatal drunk driving incidents than any other season.

There were 3,737 DUI fatalities reported during the summer months of 2023. The fall slightly fewer DUI fatalities. Researchers identify 3,595 DUI deaths in the autumn of 2023. The spring was slightly safer, with 3,263 reported fatalities. The winter months saw the lowest number of traffic deaths, with 2,895 reported DUI fatalities.

South Dakota police departments may have more police officers out watching for drunk drivers this summer, especially on weekends and around the holidays. Unfortunately, that focus on DUI enforcement might lead to inappropriate arrests.

Confirmation bias often leads officers to suspect the worst from people when there could be other explanations for what they witnessed in traffic. Even if a driver can provide an alternate explanation for their performance on field sobriety tests or the result of an alcohol test, officers may decide to arrest them anyway.

Those facing DUI charges after a summer arrest in traffic may need to review the state’s case to explore their defense options. Fighting DUI charges can help someone to potentially preserve their reputation and avoid criminal penalties that could include license suspension and incarceration.