On February 5, 2018, Stanley County Deputy Gary Nickerson issued the following DUI ticket in Fort Pierre city limits to Timothy Robert Johns:
At the time of the arrest, Johns was serving in the Legislature as a Representative of District 31. Johns is currently the Senator from District 31. On the day of the arrest, a Monday, Johns had chaired a 7:45 a.m. hearing of the House Education Committee, vice-chaired a 10:00 a.m. hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, and voted on several bills during a three-and-a-half-hour afternoon meeting of the full House. None of Johns’s committees were scheduled to meet the next morning; the House would reconvene Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. If Johns was not particularly interested in observing or testifying at any committee hearings, he could thus afford getting to bed and rising a bit late.
Then-Representative Johns appears to have taken a bit too much liberty with the prospect of a lazy Tuesday morning. Deputy Nickerson wrote out the above ticket at 22:09, not quite five hours after the House adjourned for the day. According to the deputy’s affidavit of probable cause, Deputy Nickerson found Johns so fragrantly inebriated that he cut short the sobriety test for fear the man would fall over:
Johns, a retired judge, understood the case against him well. Four days after the 2018 Session finished, on March 30, 2018, Johns pled guilty to reckless driving to get the state to drop the DUI charge. In his plea, he admitted that he “had previously ingested some alcohol and operated a motor vehicle in Stanley County on or about February 5, 2018”:
Judge Leo Disburg accepted this plea and, on April 5, 2018, sentenced Johns to 30 days in jail. Judge Disburg suspended that jail time on the condition that Johns pay a $220 fine and $194 in court costs for his reckless driving:
Johns joins fellow West River Senator Gary Cammack (R-29/Union Center) in the DUI-during-Session club. Given Johns’s DUI arrest in 2018 and Cammack’s in 2020, we could calculate that our 105 legislators have a known DUI arrest rate of 635 per 100,000 per year. South Dakota has led the nation in DUI arrests, posting 721.9 DUI arrests per 100,000 population in 2018. The national average DUI arrest rate in 2019 was 330 per 100,000.