South Dakota’s DUI Laws and Conviction Penalties

South Dakota's driving under the influence (DUI) laws prohibit operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. A conviction requires proof of certain statutory elements and can lead to grave consequences.

This article outlines exactly how the law defines a DUI and the penalties a convicted driver might face for a first, second, and third offense.

South Dakota's DUI Laws

South Dakota statutes specifically prohibit any person from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:

In other words, a DUI conviction can be based on BAC or proof of actual impairment.

How South Dakota Defines Driving and Actual Physical Control

Most DUI offenses stem from a traffic violation or collision. In these types of cases, it's a given that the offender was driving.

But actual movement isn't required for a DUI conviction in South Dakota. A driver can also be guilty of DUI based on being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence.

For a driver to be in actual physical control of a vehicle, the vehicle must be operable and the driver must be in a position to manipulate and control the movement of the vehicle. Relevant considerations in determining actual physical control include where the driver was sitting, whether the engine was running, and whether the keys were in the ignition.

How South Dakota Defines "Under the Influence" for a DUI Offense

In South Dakota, a driver can be convicted of a DUI based on BAC or actual impairment. However, the level of impairment that prosecutors must prove depends on the substances ingested by the driver.

Per Se DUI Charges

If the driver has a BAC of .08% or more, the driver can be convicted of DUI (called a "per se DUI") without proof of actual impairment.

Alcohol or Prescription Medication Impairment

A driver who has consumed alcohol or lawfully prescribed medication can be convicted of a DUI if the prosecution shows the substance made them incapable of safely driving.

Impairment From Illicit Drugs

A driver who is impaired due to the consumption of non-prescribed drugs can be convicted of a DUI if the prosecution shows the substance affected the driver's clearness of intellect and self-control. This standard describes a lesser level of impairment than the standard that applies to alcohol and prescription drugs.

Penalties for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd DUI in South Dakota

The penalties for a DUI in South Dakota are set by statute and depend primarily on the number of prior offenses the driver has within the last ten years. The minimum and maximum penalties for each offense are set by statute but judges do have substantial discretion in deciding how to sentence a convicted driver within these limits.

Jail and Fines for South Dakota DUI Convictions

The chart below outlines the range of jail time and fines for a first, second, and third DUI conviction in South Dakota.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense (Felony)


Up to 1 year

Up to one year

Up to 2 years in prison


Up to $2,000

Up to $2,000

Up to $4,000

Substance Abuse Evaluations for South Dakota DUI Offenders

Prior to sentencing for a DUI conviction, the judge can order the driver to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation. The judge will review the evaluation results and can order completion of a treatment or other rehabilitative program as part of the sentence.

Repeat offenders and offenders with a BAC of .17% or more are required to complete the evaluation and follow any treatment recommendations.

The court can also order participation in the state's intensive supervision 24/7 sobriety program. The program uses remote monitoring and random testing to ensure the continuous sobriety of participants.

South Dakota DUI Probation

In many cases, judges order a term of probation instead of a long jail sentence. Probation lasts for at least six months and requires the person to comply with certain requirements and rules. For example, the judge can order the offender to avoid bars, maintain sobriety, submit to random testing, or enroll in the state's 24/7 sobriety program. Failure to comply with probation requirements can result in jail time.

Repeat offenders might be required to complete some jail time or inpatient treatment before probationary release.

License-Related Penalties for South Dakota DUI Offenses

An impaired driving incident will typically lead to license-related penalties. These penalties vary depending on the driver's cooperation and record.

License-related penalties can result from a DUI arrest and/or conviction.

South Dakota's Implied Consent Law

Under South Dakota's "implied consent" law, all drivers are deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of his or her breath or blood to determine the presence and amount of alcohol or drugs consumed.

Subsequent to an arrest for suspected DUI, the officer can request the driver to submit to a chemical test. Drivers who refuse to comply with testing can face license-related penalties.

Refusing a Chemical Test in South Dakota

When a driver refuses to take an alcohol or drug test as required by the implied consent law, the officer will seize the driver's license and issue a notice of intent to revoke. The officer forwards the report of the refusal to the Department of Revenue. The Department will then suspend the driver's license for one year.

The suspension period for a refusal is in addition to any suspension ordered by the court for a DUI conviction.

License Revocation for DUI Convictions in South Dakota

All DUI convictions result in driver's license suspension. When determining jail and fines, the court will also order the driver's license to be suspended for:

  • 30 days to one year for a first DUI conviction, and
  • at least one year for a second or subsequent conviction.

Getting a Restricted License in South Dakota After a DUI Suspension

When ordering the suspension period, the court can issue a temporary restricted license to the driver. Generally, this license can only be used to drive to and from employment.

For offenders with prior DUI convictions or a BAC of .17% or more, the restricted license also requires participation in South Dakota's 24/7 sobriety program.

South Dakota's Under 21 DUI Laws

Drivers who are under 21 years old are subject to more stringent drug and alcohol limits than older drivers. Underage drivers who test positive for any controlled substance or marijuana or have a BAC of .02% or more can be charged with operating a vehicle after alcohol or drug consumption. This violation is often called an "Under 21 DUI."

A conviction is a class two misdemeanor and carries up to 30 days in jail and a maximum $500 in fines.

Additionally, the driver's license will be suspended for 30 days for a first offense, 180 days for a second offense, and one year for a third or subsequent offense. However, the driver might be eligible for a restricted license.

Talk with a South Dakota DUI Lawyer

While many states allow plea bargaining in DUI cases, South Dakota prohibits the dismissal or reduction of a DUI charge without good cause. However, some counties do offer diversion programs that can result in the dismissal of the DUI after completion of certain requirements. If you've been arrested for driving while under the influence in South Dakota, you should get in contact with a qualified DUI attorney in your area who can help you decide on the best course of action.

Talk to a DUI Defense attorney
We've helped 115 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you