Sunday, 21 July 2019

What Sturgis Police Will Be Watching For During This Year’s Motorcycle Rally

What Sturgis Police Will Be Watching For 
During This Year’s Motorcycle Rally

Nothing puts a damper on fun quite like a run in with Johnny Law, and with the increased police presence in and around the city of Sturgis during the annual motorcycle rally, knowing the state and local laws is a must. To make sure you have the 411 on what law enforcement officers will be looking for, Sturgis Rider® News sat down with Chief of Police Geody VanDewater of the Sturgis Police Department. Make sure you and other riders on the road can have a safe and fun time during this year’s Sturgis motorcycle rally by checking out his list of dos and don’ts.

Drinking and Driving

This is a no-brainer. If you plan on kicking back some cold ones, please designate a sober driver to get you back to your home base safely. If that’s not an option, there are modes of public transportation you can use that will cost you significantly less than a DUI. The Sturgis Party Shuttle can get you where you need to go with stops at most of the area's campgrounds and hotels including Sturgis and Deadwood. With the Buffalo Chip as its headquarters, the Sturgis Party Shuttle has shuttles that route every 30 minutes from 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. Aug. 4-13 at both the Chip’s east and west gate.

Illegal Drug Use

During the Sturgis motorcycle rally there are plenty of rides, concerts and activities that’ll give you a high that’s just as good as the hard stuff. According to their website, the Sturgis Police Department has a zero tolerance policy on all drug arrests no matter how small and will not relax charges on any violations. Just say no to drugs and you can avoid spending the bulk of your vacation in the clink.

Traffic Violations

Failure to Stop at Red Lights and Stop Signs

Traffic congestion is to be expected when you come into the city of Sturgis, but it’s important to remember to obey all traffic laws. When stopping at red lights and stop signs, you must come to a complete stop.
“Some people can balance their bike at a complete stop, but to be safe, we suggest you put at least one foot down and stop for 2-3 seconds.”
 - Sturgis Chief of Police Geody VanDewater


Passing on the Sidewalk or Shoulder

You might get impatient when waiting in traffic, but don’t try to pass on the right shoulder or sidewalks. If you are caught doing this, Sturgis police will stop you and issue you a $111 ticket. You can also use Fort Meade Way to avoid the hassle of waiting through heavy rally traffic.

Bike Modifications

Recent law changes allow you to have handlebars on your bike at the height of your choosing, but there are other modifications that are still illegal. For example, there are rules about how loud your exhaust system can be. All modifications must be factory altered. Removing the baffles in your exhaust is still against the law.

There is no specific decibel level for exhaust in the state of South Dakota, but every motorcycle must at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise. Sturgis Police will be listening for unusually loud exhaust to determine if you are violating South Dakota's vehicle noise law, 32-15-17. If you are, they’ll fine you $120.

Indecent Exposure

When the number on the thermometer starts climbing, you might be tempted to wear less. While there’s no dress code, it’s smart to remember the law requires you to keep your naughty bits covered. Failure to do so will get you charged with indecent exposure, which will land you a $111 fine.

Helmets and Eye Protection

Helmets are required for any passengers under 18 and protective eyewear is a must. Beyond that, there are no restrictions on what you can wear on your bike, but Chief VanDewater recommends you play it safe and wear the right gear when riding. Full leathers and closed-toe footwear are encouraged.
Get great gear recommendations from seasoned riders prefer by checking out “10 Essential Pieces of Gear You Shouldn’t Ride Without.”

Parking Violations

The most common complaint the Sturgis Police Department receives during the rally involves parking violations. Parking downtown can be a real pain in the you-know-what, but that doesn’t mean you can park just anywhere.
You are allowed to park anywhere on downtown streets within the barricades, except for intersections. If you are parked in handicap spots or in zones outside of the barricades that are painted yellow or red, your vehicle will be ticketed and towed. Avoid parking in alleyways or private parking lots. Public Works cleans the streets nightly to keep Sturgis looking beautiful, so if you leave your bike parked downtown after 2 a.m., it will be towed. Chief VanDewater suggests taking advantage of public transportation to keep you and your bike safe.
Outside of the city, you won’t find parking to be nearly as regulated. Remember, there is always plenty of free parking available at the Buffalo Chip CrossRoads.

What to Do If You Get Pulled Over 

(Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. Make your own decisions out there.)
Getting pulled over by the police can be an extremely nerve-racking experience. Even if you’re not breaking any laws, seeing those flashing lights in your mirror can turn your stomach to knots and make the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. However, you can help make any future stops by the police go as smoothly as possible by checking out this list of dos and don’ts.
What to do if you get pulled over:

A smooth encounter with police begins with you finding a safe place to pull over.
Kill the engine, and remove the key.
Be polite and respectful. Bad-mouthing an officer is always a bad idea, so don’t do it. Refer to them as “sir” or “ma’am.”

Remain calm. Keep your words, emotions and body language under control. Acting nervous or threatening only creates suspicion. Remain seated on your bike.
Know in advance where your license, registration and proof of insurance are so you can produce them immediately when the officer requests them.
Keep your hands where the police can see them at all times.
If the state is a single party consent state, record the interaction if you can. Single party consent means that only one party (you) is required by law to consent to an audio or video recording. A simple low profile handle bar camera that you can hit record on as soon as you’re pulled over would suffice.

If you feel your rights have been violated:

Remember officers’ badge and patrol car numbers.
Write down everything you remember ASAP.
Try to find witnesses’ names and phone numbers.
If you are injured seek medical attention, but be sure to photograph your injuries as soon as possible.
File a written complaint with the police department’s internal affairs division of civilian complaint board. 

What NOT TO DO if you are pulled over:

Do not run–on foot or with your vehicle.
Do not touch any police officer.
Do not resist, even if you believe you are innocent.
For the love of everything holy, do not argue with the officer. Anything you say can be used against you, so keep your responses short, factual and courteous.
Police may "pat-down" your clothing if they suspect a concealed weapon. As stated earlier, don’t physically resist, but make it clear that you do not consent to any further search.
Do not complain or tell the police that you’re going to file a complaint.
Do not make any statements regarding the incident. Whatever you say WILL be used against you. Police who suspect criminal behavior will attempt to glean incriminating statements from you BEFORE advising you that you’re under arrest. Ask for a lawyer before answering questions.
Do not obstruct or interfere with the police - you can be arrested for it.

If you are arrested:

Ask for a lawyer immediately. If you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to a public attorney and should ask the police how to contact one.
You have the right to remain silent; exercise it. Say, “I choose to remain silent” to invoke your right. Don’t tell the police anything besides your name and address. Make your defense in court, based on what you decide with your lawyer.
After your arrest, you may have the right to make a local phone call. If you call anyone other than your lawyer, it CAN be recorded and used against you in court. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding who to call.

Follow the tips on this list so that if you do get pulled over on your way to the Best Party Anywhere™, you can ride away and continue to enjoy your vacation. To learn more about dealing with police and local and state laws of interest to anyone attending the Sturgis Rally, check out the Laws and Safety page from the Sturgis Buffalo Chip®. For more tips on motorcycle safety, packing, repairs, and general advice on how to make the most of your Sturgis Rally experience, subscribe to the Sturgis Rider® Newsletter.

You don’t have to head out on the highway after you’ve put down a few and draw the heat. The Chip has everything you need to party, eat and sleep all in one place. The best thing you can do is stay the night at the Chip if you’ve been partying.

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