FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : Friday, April 20, 2012
CONTACT: Sara Rabern, (605) 773-3215
South Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Lower Court Decision in Sobriety Checkpoint Case
PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the South Dakota Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a DUI conviction and lower court decision that a defendant’s 4th Amendment rights were not violated when law enforcement stopped his vehicle after his avoidance of a sobriety checkpoint. The case included a preliminary breath test which indicated a blood alcohol level of .185, and a subsequent blood test indicated a blood alcohol level of .182. The legal limit in South Dakota is .08.
The South Dakota Supreme Court determined that while avoidance of a checkpoint alone is insufficient to form a basis to stop a vehicle, it is indeed suspicious activity requiring further inquiry. The Supreme Court determined “Given the totality of the circumstances at the time the officer effectuated the stop of Rademaker’s car, an ‘officer of reasonable caution’ could have concluded that an individual who turns away from a checkpoint at 1 a.m., executes an unusually wide turn, and is driving at an excessive speed for the conditions may be intoxicated or engaged in some other sort of criminal behavior.” The Court went on to hold that “Based on the totality of the circumstances, the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop Rademaker’s car, and thus, the stop did not violate Rademaker’s Fourth Amendment rights.”
Courts look at the totality of the circumstances to determine if the officer has a particularized and objective basis for suspecting legal wrongdoing.