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.
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 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.
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