South Dakota's Reckless and Careless Driving Laws and Penalties

Read about South Dakota’s reckless and careless driving laws and the consequences of a conviction.

In South Dakota, “reckless driving” is a crime. The offense is defined as driving:

  • “carelessly and heedlessly in disregard of the rights or safety of others,” or
  • “without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.”

In other words, reckless driving is operating a vehicle in a manner that poses a danger to other people or property.

Reckless Driving Penalties

Reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor in South Dakota. A conviction carries up to a year in jail and/or a maximum $2,000 in fines. For a second or subsequent reckless driving violation within a year, the motorist additionally faces a 30-day to one-year-and-30-day license revocation.

A reckless driving conviction will add eight points to the motorist’s driving record. Accumulating 15 or more points within a one-year period or 22 points within a two-year period can lead to license suspension.

South Dakota has a less serious crime called “careless driving.” The offense is defined as driving “carelessly and without due caution, at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger any person or property, not amounting to reckless driving.”

The difference between reckless and careless driving is subtle. Generally, reckless driving involves the operation of a vehicle that’s obviously dangerous, whereas more subtle instances of bad driving might be in the careless driving category.

Careless driving is a class 2 misdemeanor. Convicted motorists are looking at up to 30 days in jail and/or a maximum $500 in fines.

If reckless driving leads to the death of another person, vehicular homicide charges are also possibility.

Reckless Driving and DUI Charges (“Wet Reckless”)

In South Dakota, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with driving under the influence (DUI), to “plea bargain” for a lesser charge. When a DUI is plea-bargained down to a reckless driving charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”

Talk to an Attorney

The facts of every case are different. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with reckless or careless driving, get in contact with an experienced defense attorney. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on how best to handle your situation.

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