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Troopers Set Sobriety Checkpoint On I-29

Authorities arrested four people overnight Thursday during a sobriety checkpoint. Officers discovered three people were driving under the influence, and another person had drugs. Nearly 2000 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, and officials administered 155 breathalyzers.

Around 11:30 p.m., bright flood lights illuminate a stretch of Interstate in Sioux Falls. Hundreds of cars follow orange plastic cones and flashlights, and each car pairs with a law enforcement officer. Trooper Codie Schmeichel with the South Dakota Highway Patrol introduces himself to a driver.

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Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
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SDPB

"Obviously we’re having sobriety checkpoint here tonight," Schmeichel says. "Have you had an alcoholic beverages consumed tonight? None at all?"

The driver tells the highway patrolman that he hasn’t had anything to drink and just came from a party his parents threw for his grandma’s birthday. But the trooper sees signs of potential impairment.

“What I’m going to do is I’m just goint to have have you blow into this PB T real quick for me,” Schmeichel says. “Alright. Is that alright?”

As the car sits on I-29, the driver blows into a breathalyzer and the results appear.

“Next time you don’t have to lie to me,” Schmeichel says. “You’re under the legal limit, but just next time tell the truth alright? Alright. Have a good night.”

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Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
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SDPB

Some of the hundreds of drivers have a similar encounter with law enforcement. Troopers wave people who don’t exhibit signs of drinking through quickly. Still officials find some drivers are over the legal limit. South Dakota Highway Patrol Sergeant Steven Schade oversees the checkpoint.

"If you have been drinking, then you’ll have a little more time with the officer where they’ll check your level of impairment to see if you are intoxicated," Schade says. "If you are intoxicated, you’ll be arrested. If not, you’ll be sent down the road.”

Schade says authorities can draw blood for alcohol testing right at the checkpoint, and multiple judges are on standby overnight if officials need warrants. The trooper says sobriety checkpoints are a clear reminder that driving under the influence is against the law.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).