SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There has been a sobriety checkpoint each month from January 2022 through October 2023 in South Dakota. The number checkpoints will vary from six in one month to 12 in another. The numbers of county sites will also vary as some have more than one checkpoint in a month.
KELOLAND News received requested data from these checkpoints from 2022 and through early September.
A story on the number of driving while under the influence (DUI) and other arrests was published on Oct. 18.
Data from 2022 and 2023 shows that sobriety checkpoints are busy. At least 16,000 vehicles were involved in these checkpoints.
This month, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS) plans 22 sobriety checkpoints in 18 different counties.
July and September have been some of the busiest checkpoint months for vehicles. In July of 2022, 1,103 vehicles were involved at checkpoints in Beadle, Bennett, Brookings, Campbell, Charles Mix, Lincoln, Minnehaha, Pennington and Yankton counties. Pennington County had three checkpoints that month. In one point, 208 vehicles were involved, with no arrests, in the second, 187 vehicles were involved with one incident of other arrest and 118 vehicles were involved with no arrests.
Col. Rick Miller of the DPS and state highway patrol, said DUI arrests are not the only measure of checkpoint success. No arrests are also a success because it means people were not driving while impaired at those sites, Miller said. Other, less quantifiable, success measures include how the public shares about checkpoints and makes plans for a sober driver or an alternative to driving after drinking, Miller said.
In July of 2023, 971 vehicles were involved at checkpoints in Beadle, Brown, Brule, Codington, Hughes, Jackson, Kingsbury, Lincoln, Meade, Minnehaha, Pennington, Roberts, Stanley and Yankton counties. There were two checkpoints in Minnehaha County.
Codington County had 97 vehicles and three DUI arrests.
A breakdown of checkpoint numbers also shows that checkpoints decrease in December and January but pick up again in February and March with some decrease in August only to pick up again in September and October.
In February of 2022 there were 12 sobriety check points. There were 11 in the same month in 2023.
Miller said there is typically one sergeant at each checkpoint. For example, if four troopers are attached to one checkpoint, that would be one sergeant and three troopers.
Often, two to four troopers are assigned to checkpoints which often last an hour.
Roughly 960 troopers were involved in the checkpoints from January 2022 through early September 2023.
The DPS was not able to provide requested detailed labor costs for the checkpoints because of the time involved, Miller said. The DPS lists the number of troopers assigned, the cost is difficult because one trooper may arrive late to the checkpoint or another may stay slightly beyond the one hour limit and could be on overtime, Miller said.
Miller said gathering that detailed information would likely involve a charge to KELOLAND for the time involved. KELOLAND declined to pay for that information.
Instead, Miller provided the average trooper wage for fiscal years 2023 and FY 2024. Using the average will provide some insight into labor costs with sobriety checkpoints, although it won’t be a full or complete accurate accounting.
The average trooper wage for FY23 was $26.96 per hour while the average FY23 wage for a sergeant was $35.94 per hour. The fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.
FY23 started on July 1 2022 and ended June 30, 2023. Using July 2022 for an example, take the four troopers assigned to a Minnehaha County checkpoint. One is a sergeant at $35.94 an hour and the three others are troopers with an average wage of $26.96 per hour. That’s $80.88 for one hour of the troopers’ labor and $35.94 for one hour of the sergeant’s labor for a total of $116.82.
At 100 vehicles in that hour, that’s 25 vehicles for each trooper. That’s only a rough breakdown in simple form. Three DUI arrests, one non DUI arrest and three other arrests were made at the checkpoint at 60th Street and Westport.
Hourly wages increased for sobriety checkpoints starting on July 1, 2023 for fiscal year 2024. A trooper makes an average wage of $31.62 per hour while a sergeant makes $43.37 per hour.