In South Dakota, driving unsafely can lead to reckless or careless driving charges, fines, jail time, and license suspension. This article explains how South Dakota defines these offenses and the specific penalties you'll face for a conviction.
South Dakota defines reckless driving as driving:
In other words, reckless driving is operating a vehicle in a manner that poses a danger to other people or property. (S.D. Codified Laws § 32-24-1.)
Reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor in South Dakota. The penalties depend mostly on how many prior offenses the driver has.
A first reckless driving conviction carries up to a year in jail and/or a maximum of $2,000 in fines.
For a second or subsequent reckless driving violation within a year, the motorist face the same fines and jail time and additionally 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." (S.D. Codified Laws § 32-24-8.)
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.
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."
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.