Kinney Law, pc

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121 W. Hudson Street
P.O. Box 729
Spearfish, SD 57783

Phone: 605-642-2147
Fax: 605-642-4079
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909 St. Joseph Street
10th floor Suite 3
Rapid City, SD 57701

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2275 Lazelle Street
Sturgis, SD 57785

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What are your risks at a sobriety checkpoint?

As you know, the holiday season means time spent with family and friends, which often involves alcohol. Law enforcement is also aware of this, and they take measures during prime drunk driving periods to keep intoxicated drivers off South Dakota roads. You might not worry if you are pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint while sober, but unfortunately, you may have something to worry about.

A sobriety checkpoint is a method officers use to pull over vehicles in a predetermined pattern, such as every five cars. Drivers are usually asked if they have been drinking, and they may need to complete some field sobriety tests.

It can be the individual judgment of law enforcement officers that gets you into trouble. Officers are humans, and it is possible to make a mistake in determining whether a driver is intoxicated. For example, you could face DUI charges, despite being sober, at a sobriety checkpoint in the following ways:

  • You failed a field sobriety test because you have problems balancing or an impairment that affects your movements.
  • An officer mistook your speech impediment for intoxication.
  • You had only a small glass of wine, which didn’t raise your blood alcohol content past 0.08 percent, but the officer smelled the alcohol on your breath.
  • You had red, puffy eyes due to allergies or fatigue, which was mistaken for intoxication.

Additionally, some people believe sobriety checkpoints violate people’s privacy rights and count as unfair detainment. Others think officers may profile minorities during these checkpoints.

When you face charges of a DUI at a checkpoint, you also face numerous penalties, including fines and possible jail time. You could even lose your driver’s license, especially if you refuse to submit to a chemical test. Remember that it is possible to fight these charges even if the odds seem stacked against you.

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