Like all states, South Dakota issues licenses for the operation of vehicles on its highways. Driving without a license or on a suspended or revoked license can result in a myriad of penalties. This article explains the different types of violations and the possible penalties for unlicensed driving.
Subject to a few exceptions, state law requires a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle on a South Dakota highway.
Driving without a valid license. Driving a motor vehicle while never having been issued a license is a class 2 misdemeanor. The offender will face a maximum 30 days in jail and may have to pay up to $500 in fines.
License not in possession. A driver who has a license but was not carrying it while driving (or who refuses to present it when requested by an officer) can be charged with a petty offense, which carries a $25 fee. However, the charge will be dismissed if the driver presents a then-valid license in court. Likewise, a driver with an expired license (within the last 30 days) can present the renewed license to the court to avoid any charges.
Exceptions. Non-resident drivers (who are at least 16 years old) with a valid driver’s license from their home state or country can drive in South Dakota without an in-state license. However, most new residents must obtain an in-state license within 60 days of establishing residency. Military personnel and United States government employees driving official government vehicles are exempt from state licensing rules. And farmers moving farm equipment between fields generally do not need to be licensed so long as their license wasn’t revoked or suspended.
A licensed driver can be suspended or revoked for many reasons, including driving under the influence, acquiring too many traffic violation points, and uninsured driving. Driving while suspended or revoked will lead to jail, fines, and license penalties.
Driving while suspended. Driving while suspended or canceled is a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, and/or a maximum of 30 days jail. The driver’s suspension period will also be extended for an amount of time equal to the original suspension duration. For example, a driver initially suspended for six months will be suspended for another six months even if their original suspension was almost finished.
Driving while revoked. Driving with a revoked license (often from an impaired driving incident) is a class 1 misdemeanor. A class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. The revocation period will also be extended for one year.