A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota

FAQs

Click one of the categories below to see just answers to frequently asked questions about that topic. Or scroll down to see all of our FAQs.

What are the Criminal Penalties for DUI in Wyoming and South Dakota?

Wyoming

In Wyoming, the criminal penalties connected to DUI charges depend on whether you have been convicted before. The first time you face a DUI conviction you could face:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to $750 in fines
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .15 or higher

Second and subsequent offenses mean mandatory minimum jail times, higher fines, longer license suspensions, and mandatory interlock devices. On your 4th offense, you could go to prison for up to 2 years.

South Dakota

South Dakota's DUI criminal penalties are more straight forward. On a first or second offense, you could face:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • $1,000 in fines

On a third offense you could face up to 2 years in prison and a $2,000 fine, as well as a 1 year license suspension. South Dakota does not require ignition interlock devices.

How Much Can I Drink Before I am Legally Drunk?

Criminal DUI charges only apply if your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limit. Those limits are the same in Wyoming and South Dakota:

  • Most drivers: .08%.
  • Minors under 21 years old: .02%.
  • Commercial drivers: .04%.

How many drinks it takes to hit those limits depends on several factors, including:

  • Gender
  • Body weight
  • Prescription medications
  • Type of drink
  • Alcohol by volume in the drink
  • Speed of consumption

Can I Refuse a Chemical Blood Alcohol Test?

When alcohol is involved in a traffic stop, the police officer will most likely ask you to submit to a chemical blood alcohol test like a Breathalyzer. While you are legally allowed to refuse the breath test, doing so will affect your driver's license under Wyoming and South Dakota's "implied consent laws."

In Wyoming, the first refusal results in a 6 month suspension. Second or subsequent refusals result in an 18 month license suspension.

In South Dakota, any time you refuse a chemical blood alcohol test it will result in a one year license revocation.

What Will Happen to My License After a DUI Conviction?

A DUI or DWUI conviction in Wyoming or South Dakota will automatically result in a license suspension. How long the suspension lasts depends on your history of DUI convictions.

Wyoming

In Wyoming, the length of your license suspension increases with each DUI conviction:

  • First offense: 90 days
  • Second offense: 1 year
  • Third offense: 3 years

On your fourth or subsequent offense, you could permanently lose your right to drive.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, the longest your license will ever be suspended is 1 year. However, depending on your case, it could be shorter:

  • First offense: 30 days to 1 year
  • Second offense: 180 days to 1 year
  • Third offense: 1 year

How Long Will My Past DUI Conviction Count Against Me?

A DUI conviction will continue to affect your sentencing for 10 years in both Wyoming and South Dakota.

How Much Will I Have to Pay if Convicted of Drunk Driving?

A DUI /DWUI conviction is expensive. In addition to the fines and penalties described above, you could also face additional costs:

  • Attorney fees
  • Probation supervision fees
  • Substance abuse treatment costs
  • Alcohol screening costs
  • Ignition Interlock Device installation
  • License reinstatement
  • Increased insurance premiums

All together, even a first offense DUI conviction could end up costing you more than $10,000.

What Should I Expect During My Criminal Court Case?

If you have been arrested and are facing criminal charges in Wyoming, you should expect to show up in court on several occasions:

  • Arraignment or Initial Appearance: Charges are read and an initial plea is entered (not guilty you plan to hire a lawyer).
  • Indictment or Preliminary Hearing: Only in felony cases (and Class 1 misdemeanors in South Dakota), these hearings are held before a grand jury (indictment) or judge (preliminary hearing) to determine if there is "probable cause" that a crime was committed by the defendant. In Wyoming, this must happen within 10 days of your Initial Appearance if you are in jail or 20 days if you have been released on bail. In South Dakota the deadlines are 15 days in custody or 45 days on bail.
  • Plea Bargaining: The prosecutor and your criminal defense attorney meet to discuss possible pleas and exchange information. If you decide to take a plea bargain, you will be required to appear before the judge and make a statement.
  • Jury or Bench Trial: The prosecutor and your attorney present evidence of your guilt or innocence. You have a right to a jury trial if you are facing jail time, or have been charged with drunk driving in Wyoming. If you waive that right, or if your misdemeanor involves no jail time, your case will be decided by a judge.
  • Pre-Sentence Investigation: In felony cases, you will be interviewed by the probation department and a report will be prepared for the judge.
  • Sentencing Hearing: If you are charged with a misdemeanor this may happen immediately after your plea bargain or trial. For felony cases, there is a separate hearing. The judge will review the circumstances of your case and impose a penalty, which may start immediately after the hearing.

How Will the Judge Decide My Sentence?

The judge will evaluate several factors to decide your sentence, including:

  • Criminal history
  • Family support
  • Employment history
  • Social history
  • Circumstances of the case
  • Risk of danger to others
  • Risk of future alcohol or substance abuse

In misdemeanor cases, the decision is made without independent investigation, and is at the judge's discretion up to a maximum by the law. In felony cases, a pre-sentence investigation report will result in sentencing guidelines, which are a range of possible jail or prison times. The court may also consider alternative programs like inpatient substance abuse treatment or probation. Your criminal defense attorney will argue on your behalf to help reduce your sentence.

What Rights Do Felons Lose Upon Felony Conviction?

If you are convicted of a felony, you may lose certain rights:

  • To possess or own firearms
  • To vote
  • To hold public office.

You may also lose your freedom during the jail or prison sentence, and may have additional restrictions placed on you as terms of your probation. Felons are also required to submit to DNA testing.

What Will My Probation Look Like?

The terms of your probation, including how long it lasts, will be laid out in the order of probation, which describes what you are required to do. The most basic terms of probation require a criminal defendant to:

  • Meet regularly with your probation officer by phone or in person
  • Appear at all court hearings
  • Pay fines and restitution (money to victims)
  • Not travel out of state without permission of your probation officer
  • Follow all local, state, and federal laws
  • Avoid illegal drug use.

Depending on the charge and the circumstances in your case you may also be required to:

  • Avoid contact with the victim
  • Avoid places connected with the crime
  • Take drug and alcohol testing
  • Attend substance abuse programs
  • Attend mental health programs.

What if I Have to Register as a Sex Offender?

A criminal conviction for a sex offense often means you need to register as a sex offender. Sex offenders must provide law enforcement with the following:

  • Name, including aliases
  • Address
  • Date and place of birth
  • Social security number
  • Place of employment
  • Date and place of conviction;
  • Crime convicted
  • Schools where employed or attending classes
  • License plate number and description of each vehicle owned or operated
  • DNA sample

It is up to the sex offender to keep this information up to date. In Wyoming, registration lasts for 10 years unless the conviction is aggravated or a second offense.

Information regarding a sex offender's residence, place of employment, and other details are made part of a public online registry. The state may also send out notification to neighbors if the court believes there is a risk of repeated offense.

Can My Criminal Conviction Be Expunged?

You can ask the court to expunge a conviction after your sentence is complete. These records do not disappear, but they are removed from public records and only used for court purposes. Whether you qualify depends on the state and the charge.

Wyoming

Your record can be expunged if you are a juvenile with a non-violent misdemeanor or ordinance conviction who is turning 18 with no other convictions. For adults misdemeanors, you must:

  • Have a misdemeanor conviction for assault, battery, reckless endangerment, or breach of the peace that doesn't involve a firearm
  • Wait 5 years after your sentence is completed
  • Never have been convicted of the same crime on another occasion
  • Never have had another conviction expunged

If you have a felony conviction you must:

  • Have a felony conviction that is non-violent, doesn't involve a firearm, and doesn't require sex registration
  • Wait 10 years after your sentence is complete
  • Never have been convicted of any other felony

South Dakota

Your criminal conviction can be expunged if you:

  • Wait 10 years after the offense occurred
  • Are at least 75 years old (for felonies)
  • Have no other convictions
  • Were not convicted of a Class A, B, 1 or 2 felony
  • Undergo an alcohol evaluation and submit records of recommendation (for DUI convictions)

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