DUIs down and felony charges up at last year’s motorcycle rally

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2019 | criminal defense |

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people hop on their bikes and make the trip to Sturgis, South Dakota. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally draws roughly half a million bikers each year with the promise of scenic tours, races, concerts and camaraderie. It’s an internationally famous party of epic proportions, and every year some people take their partying just a bit too far.

Every year, dozens or hundreds of bikers get arrested for DUIs and drug charges. The good news is that there were fewer DUI arrests in 2018 than in 2017. The bad news is that felony drug arrests in 2018 were up by 67%.

Local law enforcement cracks down on illegal drugs

As important as it is for bikers to ride safe and sober, it’s important to remember that the laws in South Dakota may be different from those in their home states and that the police focus on the rally every year. The numbers make this profoundly clear. Even before last year’s rally ended, the police had made:

  • 138 misdemeanor drug arrests
  • 56 felony drug arrests
  • 117 DUI arrests
  • 6 vehicle seizures
  • Cash seizures worth more than $2,700

It’s possible that the increased number of felony drug charges owed to the extra attention that the Omaha Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency paid to the rally. But if that’s the case, attendees might expect to see even more attention paid to felony drug crimes this year. KEVN Black Hills FOX recently reported that the DEA has been busy. So far this year, the agency has seized more than 1,400 pounds of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana, which is illegal in South Dakota. In fact, the possession of more than two ounces of marijuana could result in felony charges.

The law cuts both ways

If you’re headed to Sturgis, you’ll want to follow the laws for each state you enter on your way. The rally is a great time to cut loose. After all, where else can you join a small army of bikers for a pub crawl led by the city’s mayor? But it’s also peak season for police activity. You’ll want to enjoy your rides, your poker and the rocket concerts blasting at every hour of the day, but one of the greatest parts of each year’s rally is being able to ride freely out of town and take your memories with you.