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  • Writer's pictureEric Schlimgen

"Stay Safe and Informed: What You Need to Know About the Upcoming DUI Checkpoint in Lawrence County"

South Dakota recognizes checkpoints as a legal option. Lawrence County has announced they are planning an upcoming DUI checkpoint, likely over Saint Patrick’s Day Weekend.


Stopping a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint is a “seizure” within the purview of the Constitution. State v. Tilton, 1997 S.D. 28, ¶ 11, 561 N.W.2d 660, 662 (citing Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 59 L.Ed.2d 660 (1979); State v. Krebs, 504 N.W.2d 580 (S.D.1993); see United States v. Martinez–Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543, 96 S.Ct. 3074, 49 L.Ed.2d 1116 (1976).

However, proper use of driver sobriety checkpoints is constitutional under reasonable conditions. Michigan Dep't of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 110 S.Ct. 2481, 110 L.Ed.2d 412 (1990). Determining whether a checkpoint is constitutionally reasonable involves “balancing the state's interest in preventing accidents caused by drunken drivers, the effectiveness of sobriety checkpoints in achieving that goal and the level of intrusion caused by the checkpoints.” Id. at 449, 110 S.Ct. at 2484, 110 L.Ed.2d at 419 (citations omitted). A fixed checkpoint is less intrusive on motorists than a roving patrol, the type [the South Dakota Supreme Court] considered in State v. Olgaard, 248 N.W.2d 392 (S.D.1976).


The South Dakota Supreme Court has joined the Eighth Circuit in holding that avoidance of a checkpoint alone is insufficient to form a basis for reasonable suspicion. State v. Rademaker, 2012 S.D. 28, ¶ 11, 813 N.W.2d 174, 177. However, the Eighth Circuit was clear that checkpoint avoidance is indeed suspicious and an officer can still stop a vehicle under the “totality of the circumstances.” Id.


In conclusion, be safe, do not drive intoxicated. DUI Checkpoints are legally permitted. Avoiding a DUI Checkpoint is not alone sufficient to give law enforcement reasonable suspicion for a stop but can be added to the totality of the circumstances. Always be cooperative with law enforcement and know your rights, a PBT is not admissible in court but can give reasonable suspicion and result in license revocation if not given. If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI or a motor vehicle offense, call us today. 

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