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South Dakota State Supreme Court Rules: Blood Evidence in DUI Case to Be Suppressed

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

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In South Dakota we have an implied consent law when it comes to allowing the police to perform a breathalyzer or blood test on drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence. This means that the driver has the right to refuse the tests. If they do, their driver’s license will most likely be suspended for one year. However, it’s within the driver’s right to refuse the test, according to South Dakota law.

There isn’t much debate over this law. However, there is some debate as to whether or not police always “do as they should” and inform drivers of this right. Under South Dakota law, police must let the driver know that they have the right to refuse the test, albeit with a penalty. However, there have been many cases where the driver either wasn’t informed of this right or was given information that was misleading or confusing about his right to refuse.

This is exactly why the DUI case against a South Dakota man is suddenly in jeopardy.

South Dakota Supreme Court Rules in Favor of DUI Suspect

In 2014, Eric Medicine was pulled over in Rapid City. The Rapid City officer arrested him for DUI, reading from a scripted Rapid City DUI card. At the time, reading from this card was standard procedure in Rapid City; every police officer who arrested someone for a suspected DUI was told to read the card. But there was a problem.

The Problem With the Scripted DUI Card in South Dakota

The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld a ruling from a lower court suppressing the blood evidence test that was performed on the driver. They ruled that the card had “coercive language” and the blood evidence that helped prove a case against Medicine was to be suppressed—it could not be part of the evidence used in court against the DUI suspect. They also found that the man had been arrested before he was asked to submit to the blood test and that he was unaware that he had the right to say no to submit to the test.

What This Means for Other DUI Cases in South Dakota

It will be some time before we see if other DUI suspects in Rapid City attempt to suppress similar evidence. Since Medicine’s arrest in 2014, the card Rapid City police read is no longer being used. If you were arrested for a DUI in Rapid City and you believe that the arresting officer didn’t properly inform you of your refusal rights call 888-733-2992 as soon as possible.


Category: Criminal Defense


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