When the Legislature convenes for its two Special Sessions in November, expect Senate Majority Leader Gary Lynn Cammack (R-29/Union Center) to be driving extra carefully. According to South Dakota court records, he’s on probation until after Christmas for careless driving, a misdemeanor charge he pled down to on June 29 after being arrested for driving under the influence on January 18, 2020:
The court record lists the DUI arrest date as Saturday, January 18, 2020. The arrest took place after the first week of the 2020 Session; none of Cammack’s three committees had met yet, and on Friday, January 17, the Senate convened at 9 a.m. for all of nine minutes, with 15 of its 35 members absent. Without an arrest time listed, we can’t tell if Cammack was busted in the wee hours after returning from Pierre Friday or after a hard day of taking care of household affairs in Meade County on Saturday.
The charges were filed in Meade County, but the case was prosecuted by Alexandra Weiss, deputy state’s attorney for Pennington County. The ongoing Legislative Session and then the coronavirus outbreak may reasonably explain why Cammack’s prosecution until June of 2021. Pretrial conferences were held November 19, 2020, and June 10, 2021. A jury trial was scheduled for July 1, 2021, but Cammack avoided that publicity by pleading guilty to careless driving on June 29.
First-offense DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor which carries the additional penalty of revocation of the boozehound’s driver’s license for at least 30 days. Pleading down to careless driving, a Class 2 misdemeanor, spared Cammack the indignity of having to ask his neighbor Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden for rides to Pierre for E-Board meetings. The court fined Cammack $431.50 for the careless driving charge, $39 for speeding, and took another $222 out of his hide for court costs. Cammack is on probation until December 29, until which time, if he keeps his nose clean, the Senator will receive a suspended imposition of sentence, which will seal the record of his guilty plea and remove the conviction from his record.
So hey, legislators, when the Senate Majority Leader declines to go out drinking with you while you talk redistricting and impeachment in November, don’t give him a hard time. Help Cammack stay dry until December 29, and then he can rejoin you at the bar come regular Session in 2022.