Driving Without a License in South Dakota

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled in South Dakota?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in South Dakota?

Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios. You’re stopped for an offense and:

  • You have a license but it’s not in your possession. South Dakota law (SDCL 32-12-39) states that every driver shall have their Driver License in their immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle. This infraction may be dismissed once you can prove that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident.  (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
  • You never applied for a license (or your license expired). Violators are fined $270.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. For first time offenders, this offense is punishable by a fine of up to $1000.

How do you fight the charge?

Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be difficult.  Once the district attorney or prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you did possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense. If you don’t have evidence of a license, you lose! Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from the advice or negotiating skills of an attorney.

Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in South Dakota?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in South Dakota.


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