South Dakota Traffic Laws – 7 Laws Every Driver Needs to Know

South Dakota Traffic Laws - 7 Laws Every Driver Needs to Know

Looking to brush up on South Dakota traffic laws?

Don’t want to get those annoying tickets?

Want to make a good impression on your driver’s test?

Then it’s important to know about these 7 South Dakota traffic laws:

  • Distracted driving
  • DUI
  • Window tint
  • Secure load
  • School bus
  • Parking
  • Crash

If you’re unfamiliar with what the law says, don’t worry. 

We’re going to go through them one by one, giving you all the details and the penalties, too. 

So shall we? 

South Dakota Distracted Driving Law

What is the number one thing that distracts drivers?

Cell phones. 

It’s no wonder then that the South Dakota distracted driving law focuses on cell phone use. 

Under the law, “Any driver is NOT allowed use or even hold their phones while behind the wheel”. 

That said, you are allowed to use your phone ONLY if:

  • It is an emergency situation
  • You are using a GPS navigation
  • You are making or receiving calls
  • You use a hands-free device 

For those under 18 years old, the law is even stricter. 

“Drivers below 18 years old with a restricted license or learner’s permit are NOT allowed to use any communication device, even if it is on hands-free mode.”

Now, this law is primary enforcement. 

This means that if a law officer sees you on your phone while behind the wheel, they can pull you over and give you a ticket. 

Breaking this law will result in a class 2 misdemeanor and a fine (around $130) attached to it. 

And, although not a law, the State of South Dakota encourages everyone to stay away from other distractions that:

  • Take your hands off the steering wheel (eating, applying makeup, etc.)
  • Take your eyes off the road (getting something from the back, checking out the scenery, etc)
  • Take your mind off the task (arguing with someone, dealing with unruly children or pets, etc).

South Dakota DUI Law

Here’s another very dangerous type of driving — driving under the influence (DUI).

And this relates to both alcohol and drugs (yes, even prescription or over-the-counter drugs).

When it comes to alcohol, law officers measure your level of impairedness by checking your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level. 

If your BAC level reaches the percentages listed below, then you will be charged with DUI. 

  • 0.08% for drivers above 21 years old
  • 0.04% for drivers that hold a commercial license
  • 0.02% for drivers under 21 years old

However, let’s say you’re above 21 with a BAC level of 0.05%. 

You can still be charged with DUI if you show undeniable signs of impaired driving. 

As for drugs, if you are suspected of DUI and there is any amount of drugs in your system (it doesn’t matter what it is) you will be charged with DUI, too. 

And as you might expect, the penalties for DUI are very harsh. 

These are the 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

As you might expect, the penalties are harsher if the underage drinker has 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

As for those above 21, here are the penalties to expect:

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

The charges rise if you’ve been convicted multiple times, with the 3rd DUI (and all others after) becoming a felony charge, that will see you face significant jail time.

South Dakota Window Tint Law

Window tinting is popular for blocking the sun and making your car look cool. 

And sometimes, drivers think that they can apply any type of tint to their vehicles. 

However, there are a few regulations imposed on the amount of tint you can apply.

For passenger vehicles, the front windshield can only be tinted above the AS-1 line, which covers the topmost section. Plus, the tint should be non-reflective. 

Tinting below the AS-1 line might hinder the view in front of the driver. 

Front-side windows on the other hand can be tinted up to 65%, meaning 35% of sunlight must still go through.

Back-side windows and the rear window are allowed to be tinted to 80%. That means only 20% of sunshine can go through. 

Always keep this in mind if ever you want to tint your car. 

And don’t think that you won’t get caught — some law officers have handheld devices that can detect window tint VLT. 

Tinting your windows beyond what is permitted is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which can lead to a fine costing around $25 to $200.

South Dakota Secure Load Law

If you’re transporting any load, on a personal or commercial basis, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is fastened tightly and correctly.

An officer may stop your vehicle if they believe the load you are carrying may slide, fall, or become airborne.

So all loads must be secured with the use of ropes or other means to make sure there is no movement.

If not, you can get pulled over for endangering the roadway. And this can lead to tickets and fines. 

But if you cause damage or an accident due to an unsecured load, then you’ll definitely face more penalties, even jail time. 

The fines and jail time imposed will vary based on the damage and/or injury caused.

South Dakota School Bus Law

Here’s one traffic law that you might not think is so serious but actually is. 

In South Dakota, all drivers must ALWAYS stop at least 15 feet from a school bus if: 

  • The school bus’ red lights are flashing
  • The school bus’ STOP sign is extended

You are NOT allowed to pass. 

Yes, even if you are driving in the opposite direction.

You will only be allowed to continue when the red lights stop flashing, the STOP sign is withdrawn, and the school bus continues moving. 

There is an exception to this law, though. 

If the school bus stops on a highway with 2 or more lanes in each direction, the vehicles going in the opposite direction as the school bus are not required to stop. 

But what if the school bus is flashing an amber warning light?

If so, you don’t need to stop. 

You are only required to reduce your speed to at least 15 mph and pass carefully if you can. 

As for vehicles in the opposite direction, they can continue as normal. 

Now, we said that this is a serious law. 

This is because, if you break it, you’ll face a Class 2 misdemeanor, high fines starting at $250, and maybe even jail time for up to 30 days. 

South Dakota Parking Laws

No, you can’t just park anywhere. 

You don’t want to disrupt traffic or cause accidents. 

This is why the State of South Dakota is very specific with its parking laws. 

Here are the laws:

  • Don’t park anywhere with a no parking sign posted
  • Park at least 15 feet of the road width on a rural highway
  • Make sure to park where your vehicle is seen at least 500 feet from either direction
  • Always keep your parking lights and taillights on if it is dark outside
  • Park as far away from traffic as possible on a roadway
  • You cannot park within 20 feet of a fire station
  • You cannot park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant
  • You cannot park within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection
  • You cannot park within 30 feet of any flashing signal, stop/yield sign, or traffic signal
  • You cannot park on a private property
  • You cannot park in a designated PWD parking spot unless you have Disabled Person Plates.

As you might expect, disobeying the South Dakota parking law will come with fines, ranging from $40 to $100 (if you park in a disabled slot without the proper plate).

In some cases, your vehicle may be towed.

South Dakota Crash Laws

If you are involved in a crash, it is your responsibility to stay at the scene and notify the police. 

If the owner is present

  • Get the names and addresses of all people involved in the accident, and any witnesses
  • Exchange information with other drivers involved in the crash. [Name, address, driver’s license number, etc) and insurance details
  • Record any damage to the vehicles involved in the crash
  • Provide information to the police or other emergency officials if requested

If you can’t find the owner

If you’ve crashed into a parked car, then you’ll have to look for the owner, while also notifying the police.

If you can’t find the owner then list out the following on a piece of paper, putting it where the owner can find it:

  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • Driver license number
  • License plate number
  • Date and time of the accident
  • Damage to the vehicle

In case of a serious accident

  • If the vehicle can move, move it off the road so that it does not cause another crash
  • Turn off the ignition of wrecked vehicles, be careful of spilled fuel
  • Use flares or other warning devices to alert traffic about the accident
  • Do not move anyone that is injured unless they are in a burning vehicle or in other immediate danger of being hit by another vehicle
  • Do not give injured persons anything to drink
  • Cover an injured with a blanket or coat to keep them warm
  • Call the emergency authorities right away

Leaving the scene of any injury or death before the police arrive is a crime.

Here you may be punished with fines and possible jail time, depending on the seriousness of the crash.


So those were the 7 South Dakota traffic laws you need to know about. 

If you make sure to follow these laws, then you’ll already be a much better and safer driver. 

And yes, you will be able to avoid the small and harsh penalties alike. 

Remember, it’s always best to be a responsible driver. 

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