Social attitudes about drug and alcohol use do not inherently align with legal restrictions. Especially when people travel, they need to acknowledge the possibility that local laws related to drug and alcohol possession and use might lead to their arrest.
South Dakota welcomes a significant influx of travelers during the warmer seasons, partially because the state hosts special events that tend to draw people from all across the country. The upcoming motorcycle rally in Sturgis is a perfect example. Every year, hundreds of thousands of bikers gather in Sturgis, and every year, the local police department arrests at least a few of the attendees for drug or alcohol violations.
Those visiting from out of state should ultimately learn about the basics of drug and alcohol laws in South Dakota if they don’t want to be one of those tourists who spends much of the rally (or any other event) in police custody.
Alcohol offenses are more common than people realize
The most obvious concern related to alcohol for someone attending the Sturgis motorcycle rally is the possibility of impaired driving. Anyone over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) might end up arrested if they try to ride back home or to a hotel after drinking. Additionally, simply being out in public while visibly under the influence could be enough to lead to criminal charges. Public intoxication is a disorderly conduct crime that can lead to arrest and possibly a jail sentence.
South Dakota has strict laws about drugs as well
Those accused of possessing or distributing controlled substances or prohibited drugs will likely face arrest and prosecution in South Dakota. Although other nearby states have legalized recreational marijuana, South Dakota has not. Anyone in possession of a prohibited drug could end up arrested, even if they didn’t understand state law. In cases where prosecutors allege that they brought the substances from another state, they might even face federal prosecution.
As to those riders who end up arrested despite trying to make sound choices, it’s important to remember that fighting back against pending charges, even if someone lives in another state, is often the best response to an arrest for drug or alcohol-related crimes in South Dakota. A successful defense can potentially eliminate the risk of criminal penalties and protect someone from a record that could forever alter the course of their life.