South Dakota DUI Laws – Everything You Need to Know

South Dakota DUI Laws - Everything You Need to Know

As you may already know, driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense. 

The reason is that it endangers SO MANY lives. 

Not only yours — but everyone around you. 

Imagine how dangerous a vehicle can be in the wrong hands. 

But what exactly are the South Dakota DUI laws?

What about the penalties?

If you’re living in South Dakota and are looking for more information regarding local laws that deal with DUI, then keep on reading.

We’re going to tell you everything you need to know here. 

So let’s begin!

DUI Laws in South Dakota

South Dakota DUI Laws

In South Dakota, there are several laws that deal with DUI. These are:

  • Illegal BAC levels
  • Implied Consent
  • Under 21 Alcohol Laws
  • Drugs and Driving

Let’s look at each one in detail. 

Illegal BAC Levels

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a measurement of how much alcohol you have in your system. 

Now, it is considered driving under the influence if your BAC level reaches:

  • 0.08% or higher for drivers above 21
  • 0.04% or higher for drivers that hold a commercial license
  • 0.02% or higher for drivers under 21

Say you’re above 21, hold a regular driver’s license, and have a BAC level of 0.04%. 

Will you not be charged with DUI?

Well, it depends. 

If you show signs of impaired driving, then you could still be caught and convicted. 

So the general rule is — DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

Implied Consent

But you might be wondering, “How can law officers know my BAC level?”

Good question. 

If a law officer suspects you of DUI, they will immediately pull you over and have you take a breath test — usually called a breathalyzer. 

This test shows your BAC level. 

And under the Implied Consent law, it is illegal to refuse the test. 

It’s called ‘Implied Consent’ since you agreed to this when you obtained your driver’s license. 

What happens if you refuse?

This could lead to a 12-month license suspension. 

What’s more, refusing the test gives the law officer more reason to believe that you are driving under the influence — and they can still charge you with DUI with more evidence. 

Under 21 Alcohol Laws

South Dakota has a zero-tolerance law for underage drinkers. 

It’s no wonder the BAC level for under-21-year-olds is very low — only at 0.02%, which equals to just 1 glass of alcohol. 

Not only that, but it is also illegal to purchase and possess alcohol. 

The reason DUI is stricter for those under 21 is, one, they aren’t even legally allowed to drink yet — and, two, young drivers are usually inexperienced.

This can lead to greater accidents that cause severe injuries and even life. 

Drugs and Driving

DUI is not just about alcohol. 

Drugs also fall into the list of intoxicants that can impair driving. 

While there are no BAC levels for drugs, it is up to the officer’s digression if they believe beyond a doubt that you’re unfit to drive.

It goes without saying that all illegal substances will lead to an arrest if caught driving under its influence. 

But the same is true for legal drugs, too. 

This can be over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs. 

Get this. 

If the drug impairs your driving, then you will be charged with DUI — no matter what the drug is. 

So always be careful and know the effects that legal drugs have on you. 

South Dakota DUI Penalties


The South Dakota DUI penalties are HARSH.

This is to discourage anyone from doing it — and risking so many lives. 

Now, the penalties will vary depending on your age, your BAC level, how many convictions you’ve had, your passengers, any damages, etc. 

Here are the South Dakota DUI penalties for drivers under 21 with a BAC level of 0.02% to 0.08%:

Offense:Crime:Fine:Jail Time:License Suspension:
1stClass 2 MisdemeanorUp to $50030 days in county jail Minimum 30 days
2nd and subsequentClass 2 MisdemeanorUp to $50030 days in county jailMinimum 180 days

Here are the DUI penalties for drivers under 21 with a BAC level of 0.08% or more:

Offense:Crime:Fine:Jail Time:License Suspension:
1stClass 1 MisdemeanorUp to $500Up to 1 yearMinimum 30 days
2nd Class 1 MisdemeanorUp to $500Up to 1 yearMinimum 1 year
3rd and subsequentClass 6 FelonyUp to $500Up to 2 yearsMinimum 1 year

DUI penalties for drivers above 21 with a BAC level of 0.08% or more:

Offense:Crime:Fine:Jail Time:License Suspension:Program:
1stClass 1 MisdemeanorUp to $2,000Up to 1 yearMinimum 30 daysCourt-order consultation (if BAC level is above 0.17%
2nd Class 1 MisdemeanorUp to $2,000Up to 1 yearMinimum 1 yearAlcohol treatment program
Ignition Interlock Device installed
3rd Class 6 FelonyUp to $4,000Up to 2 yearsMinimum 1 yearAlcohol treatment program
Ignition Interlock Device installed
4th Class 5 FelonyUp to $10,000Up to 5 yearsMinimum 2 yearsAlcohol treatment program
Ignition Interlock Device installed
5th and subsequentClass 5 FelonyUp to $20,000Up to 10 yearsMinimum 3 yearsAlcohol treatment program
Ignition Interlock Device installed

This is pretty harsh already. 

But expect even harsher penalties if your DUI leads to any damage, injury, or death. 

The penalties are also more severe if you have a minor in your vehicle while you were driving under the influence. 

Effects of Alcohol and Impairing Drugs

But why all this stress about driving under the influence?

You’ll know when you see the effects alcohol and drugs have on you and on driving. 

  • Judgment – Alcohol and drugs can reduce your judgment to make the right driving decisions. 
  • Vision – With blurred vision, drivers have a hard time judging the distance, speed, and movement of their surroundings. 
  • Focus – We don’t need to tell you that you need a lot of focus to drive. Without it, you won’t be aware of your surroundings and what you need to do to keep safe. 
  • Color distinction – Because impaired driving makes it hard to distinguish colors, drivers can easily run through a red light — and cause severe accidents. 
  • Reaction time – Drivers need quick reaction time to avoid hitting things on the road. Well, a slow reaction time will take drivers several minutes to register what is happening and what they should do. 

THINK Sign Program in South Dakota

There have been so many lives lost due to DUI.

This is why the South Dakota Department of Public Safety created the THINK Sign program. 

THINK aims to remind drivers of the cost of DUI. 


Along the highways and major roads, there are signs placed for every person killed in a crash. 

This provides a memorial for those victims — as well as a BIG reminder for drivers to avoid impaired driving and causing even more crashes, injuries, and deaths. 

Frequently Asked Questions About South Dakota DUI Laws

How Many DUI Is a Felony in South Dakota?

If you’ve been charged with 3 or more DUIs within 10 years, then you’ve committed a felony in South Dakota.

A 3rd DUI is a class 6 felony, while a 4th is a class 5 felony, which can lead to up to 5 years in jail.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in South Dakota?

A DUI is a permanent resident on your record, that will be available to employers, government agencies, and insurance companies.

However, a driving record is only visible to the above parties for up to 3 years. 

So if the DUI conviction was on your record for 5 years already, the above agencies won’t be able to see it — even though it is still there. 

What Happens if You Refuse a Breathalyzer in South Dakota?

The concept of Implied Consent means that all drivers who have obtained a license have consented to be tested by law officers.

Refusing to take a breathalyzer test could lead to a 12-month driving suspension, while the state will still be able to pursue impaired driving charges.

Can a DUI Be Expunged in South Dakota?

Expunging a DUI from your record will depend on the circumstances and the harm caused as a result of your DUI.

If allowed, expunging a DUI will require that the offense and all subsequent requirements/punishments have been served 10 years prior.

Does South Dakota Have DUI Checkpoints?

Yes. Every month, there are DUI checkpoints that discourage people from driving under the influence. 

These checkpoints will allow law officers to check drivers at choice, to see if their BAC level or driving state is acceptable.

Can Passengers Drink Alcohol in a Car in South Dakota?

No, South Dakota law does NOT allow anyone to drink alcohol in a vehicle — whether the driver or passenger. 

This is because, if the passenger has alcohol, the driver can be very tempted to drink, too. 

Even possessing opened alcoholic beverages in a vehicle is not allowed — with a few exceptions, of course. 


So there you have it — everything you needed to know about the South Dakota DUI laws. 

As you can see, the State of South Dakota takes pains to avoid driving under the influence. 

There are the monthly checkpoints…

The THINK Sign program…

The harsh penalties in place…

That tells you that it is SUPER dangerous and must not be treated lightly. 


It might just cause a life.

Or, if not, it might cause you to face the penalties. 

Be a responsible driver!

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