The 2022 82nd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is expected to be smaller than previous years. National economic factors, especially inflation and gas prices, may reduce the amount of travelers Sturgis has seen in the past.
However, this does not mean there will be decreased law enforcement presence. In fact, just the opposite is true. With less crowds and reduced traffic, law enforcement patrols have more access to stopping potential traffic violators and conducting alcohol and drug-related investigations. Smaller rallies also equate to fewer traffic accidents and fatalities, which in turn lead to more time for routine patrols. For the most part, arrest numbers are the highest in Meade County (Sturgis-Piedmont-Summerset-Black Hawk), followed by Lawrence County (Deadwood-Spearfish-Lead-Whitewood). You may be surprised to learn that, traditionally, Pennington County (Rapid City) does not have a proportionately larger amount of Rally-related arrests.
While law enforcement seems to be everywhere during the Rally, vehicle patrols are concentrated between Downtown Sturgis and the campgrounds east of Sturgis, on I-90 and foot patrols and Downtown Sturgis. Watch your alcohol intake, avoid drugged driving, watch for temporary traffic control devices and reduced speed limits.
There have been no unannounced court procedures that vary or differ from previous years’ rallies. Alleged violators are held overnight in jail and appear at their initial appearance before the judge in the morning. In Sturgis and Deadwood, initial court appearances start as early as 8:30 AM and can take all morning. If you, your family member or friends get arrested for misdemeanor DUI in Sturgis, typically they do not appear until 10:00 AM.
Unfortunately, the Meade County Jail does not allow attorneys or outside visitors for those held in jail until after the initial appearance. While this practice has been highly criticized as unconstitutional, it is still allowed due to staffing, safety and time constraints. During these mornings prior to their initial appearances, it is often very stressful for arrestees. It is easy to fall prey to jailhouse or arresting officer advice that is oftentimes unreliable and incorrect.
As the judge will tell everyone, you don’t have to plead guilty to get out of jail and a bond will be set to allow defendant released from jail and figure out their options. There are situations when defendants will not need to hire an attorney depending on the charge(s) brought.
However, one is better off finding this out after they have had time to consult and think it over. If you have a significant other, family member or friend in jail overnight, in almost all cases you will have an opportunity to help bond them out so they can gather their wits and take the next step.
Fear, embarrassment, humiliation and a lack of clearheaded-ness often have defendants jumping at courtroom floor plea offers without knowing the consequences that follow them home, especially in the area of their driving privileges.
For example, there are a number of states that suspend driving privileges upon being convicted of reckless driving, namely Washington, Michigan, Wyoming and other states. A defendant will have a tendency to be given jailhouse advice to plead guilty to reckless driving when offered in open court, especially upon seeing someone called before him or her take the same deal. Without reading a police report, knowing their blood alcohol content test result or seeking any legal advice as to how to handle a DUI charge, many feel the pressure of taking a deal that may be devastating to their careers.
This is when mistakes are made, and fixing those mistakes is often more expensive and risky than bonding out and seeking legal advice. On misdemeanors, South Dakota law allows attorneys to appear for defendants on hearings that don’t involve the court taking evidence. Most DUI cases are resolved at a later date by an attorney without the defendant’s personal appearance or coming back to Sturgis.
Many employed by the state or county are not shy when suggesting defendants merely go talk to the State’s Attorney the next day or so to see what they offer. It is common practice that prosecutors do not change their mind once an offer is made to an unrepresented defendant.
One should not expect that a better deal is awaiting upon hiring an attorney after getting turned down by the prosecutor. Remember, the police, jail and prosecutors are on the same team, and clearing out their Rally caseload immediately is, as should be expected, their top priority. Do not assume this means they will dismiss your case just because they are busy. While the legal system, prosecutors and their staff work very long and hard hours during the Rally, criminal law cases are not thrown out or dismissed merely due to a large caseload.
Matt and Kim Kinney are available to discuss cases throughout the week when we are awake. Call us at 605-961-2945, text us from the home page Text button of this website, or send us and email at any time for assistance and advice. The first call is always free of charge, so it doesn’t hurt to reach out if someone is in trouble.