South Dakota New Resident Guide

Welcome to the Mount Rushmore State – South Dakota! As you begin your journey on our roads, it's vital to become familiar with the specific traffic rules and driving customs unique to our state. This concise guide is designed to help you navigate through South Dakota's varied landscapes, from its rolling prairies to the majestic Black Hills. While some driving regulations may echo those in other states, understanding the local nuances of South Dakota's roads is key to a safe and enjoyable driving experience.


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Licensing and Residency Requirements


You are required to have a South Dakota driver's license if you have lived here for more than 90 days. If you are a commercial driver's license holder, you must apply for a South Dakota license within 30 days. If you move to South Dakota and bring with you a vehicle that was previously titled in another state, you have 90 days from the date of arrival to obtain a South Dakota title.

Graduated Licensing Program


Instruction Permit


  • Must be 14 years old;
  • Must pass the vision and written knowledge tests.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May drive under supervision
    • 6 AM - 10 PM with any licensed adult;
    • 10 PM - 6 AM with a legal guardian.


Restricted Minor's Permit


  • Must be between 14 and 18;
  • Must have completed driver's education and held an instruction permit for 90 days, OR held an instruction permit for 180 days with no driver's education;
  • Must not have had any traffic convictions for the past 6 months;
  • Must pass the drive test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May drive unsupervised from 6 AM to 10 PM with guardian permission;
  • May only drive with parent or guardian supervision between 10 PM and 6 AM.


Operator License


  • Must be at least 16;
  • Must not have had any traffic convictions for the past 6 months.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Full driving privileges with no restrictions.

Violation Point Counts

The number of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.


Driving while Intoxicated10 Points
Reckless Driving8 Points
Eluding/Attempting to Elude6 Points
Drag Racing6 Points
Failure to Yield Right of Way4 Points
Improper Passing4 Points
Driving Wrong Side of Roadway4 Points
Stop Sign/Light Violation3 Points
Other moving violations2 Points

Any operator who accumulates 15 points in any 12 consecutive months, or 22 points in any 24 consecutive months is subject to driver's license suspension.

First Suspension60 Days Maximum
Second Suspension6 Months Maximum
Subsequent Suspension1 Year Maximum

Insurance Requirements


South Dakota requires the owner of a vehicle to purchase insurance or provide proof of financial responsibility.

South Dakota requires a minimum limit of $25,000 bodily injury liability insurance person, $50,000 total bodily injury liability per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability per accident.

Headlight Laws


You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, or when following another vehicle.

You must use your headlights:

  • From one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise.
  • At any other time when there is not sufficient light to enable a driver to see a person on the highway at a distance of 200 feet ahead.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.

Implied Consent Laws


License Revocation for 1 year.

DUI Penalties


First Offense (Class 1 misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year county jail;
  • Up to $2,000 fine;
  • Minimum 30 days license revocation.

Second Offense (within 10 years) (Class 1 misdemeanor)

  • Up to 1 year county jail;
  • Up to $2,000 fine;
  • Minimum 1 year license revocation.

Third Offense (within 10 years) (Class 6 felony)

  • Up to 2 years state penitentiary;
  • Up to $4,000 fine;
  • Minimum 1 year license revocation.

Fourth Offense (within 10 years) (Class 5 felony)

  • Up to 5 years state penitentiary;
  • Up to $10,000 fine;
  • Minimum 2 years license revocation.

Fifth or Subsequent Offense (within 10 years) (Class 4 felony)

  • Up to 10 years in state penitentiary.
  • Up to $20,000 fine.
  • Minimum 3 years license revocation.



Community service

  • May be a condition of probation.

Alcohol education and treatment

  • Defendant may only be granted a restricted license upon successful completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program.
  • Court may order as part of probation.

Ignition interlock

  • May be mandated as part of a statewide 24/7 sobriety program administered by the Office of the Attorney General, and established in each locality by the sheriff's department or department of corrections.

Open Container Law


South Dakota allows bottles of wine to be resealed using a specified tamper-evident procedure, by statutory or regulatory requirements, as an exception to its open container prohibition.

Red Light Violation Fines


South Dakota does not have a state law governing red light fines or the use of traffic cameras for red light enforcement.

Construction Zone Penalties


  • Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to two times the original fine up to $500, 30 days in jail, or both.
  • Under a separate law, agents or employees of the Department of Transportation are authorized to issue citations for speeding violations within a work zone while workers are present and the zone is marked by signs.

Turn Signal Information


Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.

Hazard Light Information


Hazard light use is permitted.

Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws


  • South Dakota has no state law regarding the right of way for a funeral procession.
  • Funeral processions are not required to allow sufficient space between vehicles to enable any other vehicle to enter and occupy such space without danger.

School Bus Laws



  • Vehicles are required to stop unless on a highway with separate roadways, and the bus is on a different roadway.
  • The operator of a motor vehicle on a two-lane highway or a private road meeting or overtaking a school bus on which the amber warning lights are flashing shall reduce the speed of his/her vehicle to not more than twenty miles per hour and proceed past the school bus with caution.



  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in 30 days imprisonment, a $500 fine, or both.

Bicyclist Passing Distance


There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.

Motorcycle Laws



  • A person may not operate a motorcycle, except a moped, without a motor vehicle driver's license or permit upon which a state testing officer has certified that such person is qualified to operate the motorcycle. However, the operator of a moped must have a valid motor vehicle operator's license or permit.
  • The Department may waive the motorcycle testing requirements upon completion of an approved motorcycle safety course.
  • Any minor who has completed the department-approved motorcycle safety education courses, and a driver education course of another state that the Secretary of Public Safety has determined is acceptable, can qualify for a restricted minor's permit in 30 days.
  • A motorcycle-restricted minor's permit may be issued, upon application and payment of the proper fee, to a minor who is at least 14 years of age but less than 18 years of age. The applicant must have successfully passed all applicable tests and completed the requirements of an instruction permit and must have not been convicted of any traffic violation during the previous 6 months.
  • A motorcycle-restricted minor's permit entitles the holder to operate a motorcycle during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. if the motorcycle is being operated with the permission of the holder's parents or guardian.


Protective Gear

  • All persons under the age of 18 must wear motorcycle safety helmets that are approved by the Department of Transportation.
  • A person riding in an enclosed cab attached to a motorcycle does not have to wear a safety helmet.
  • A motorcycle operator must wear an eye-protective device unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen of sufficient height and design that protects the motorcycle operator.
  • When headlights are required to be on, a motorcycle operator cannot wear protective eye devices that are tinted or shaded to reduce the light transmission of the device below 35%.



  • Daytime headlight use is not required.


Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.

Using the Shoulder to Pass


You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.

Passing Laws


Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.


When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

Speed Limits


  • 75 mph on interstate highways.
  • 70 mph on divided four-lane highways in rural areas.
  • 65 mph on other streets or highways.
  • 55 mph on township roads.
  • 25 mph on urban streets that do not have posted speed limits.
  • 15 mph in a school zone during a recess or when children are going to or leaving school during the opening or closing hours.

Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws


Safety Belts

  • Occupants 18 years and older must wear safety belts.
  • Police may not stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $20.


Child Seats

  • Children 4 years and younger and less than 40 pounds must be in a child seat.
  • Children 5 - 7 years, and all children 40 pounds or more regardless of age, must be secured and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Emergency Vehicle Laws


Move Over

  • When you see any vehicles displaying flashing red, amber, or yellow lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway, you must do the following:
    • If driving on an interstate highway or another highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction as the vehicle, merge into the lane farthest from the vehicle and proceed with caution, unless otherwise directed; or;
    • If driving on a two-lane highway, slow to a speed that is at least twenty miles per hour less than the posted speed limit or five miles per hour when the speed limit is posted at twenty miles per hour or less and proceed with caution, unless otherwise directed.



  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within the block where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.


Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address;
    • Owner's name and address;
    • Vehicle license number;
    • Show driver's license upon request.
  • Assist any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Call police immediately if necessary:
    • If none of the other people involved in the accident are in a condition to receive the information you are required to give them, and no police officer is present, you must report the crash to the nearest police department as soon as you have assisted any injured person.
    • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident immediately to the nearest available law enforcement officer.
    • If the driver is unable to make an immediate report, any other occupant of the vehicle who can must do so.
  • Unattended vehicle or property:
    • If you have collided with an unattended vehicle or other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle license number, and show your driver's license if requested.
    • If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances, and notify the nearest police department.