DUI in South Dakota

What is a DUI in South Dakota?

The DUI ("Driving Under the Influence") laws in South Dakota are compiled in Title 32, Chapter 23 of the state's codified laws. Under these statutes, an individual can be charged with a DUI if caught operating a vehicle while legally intoxicated or in actual physical control of a vehicle (i.e., not driving but behind the wheel).

A DUI allegation is a serious matter in South Dakota. Unlike other traffic offenses, a person cannot simply get off by paying a traffic ticket to the courts in South Dakota. Instead, such a person will be subject to substantial fees and fines, alcohol or drug testing and education, driver's license revocation, and even a period of incarceration, in addition to the offense being included in the offender’s South Dakota criminal record depending on its nature and severity. Along with the legal consequences, DUI offenders may have to endure job losses and hiked car insurance rates.

Over a quarter of fatal crashes in the United States occur due to alcohol or drug-impaired driving. Based on reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 10,000 people lose their lives in drunk driving crashes each year, and 28 people die each day in alcohol-related crashes that are preventable.

Although states in America encourage responsible alcohol consumption among people who drive or operate vehicles in their jurisdictions, many citizens still indulge in alcohol-impaired driving acts. To deter such behaviors, all jurisdictions establish drunk driving (DUI) laws to penalize offenders. These laws also aim to discipline people who drive under the influence of drugs or narcotics.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in South Dakota?

A DWI ("Driving While Intoxicated/Impaired") is an acronym used to describe an impaired driving offense in some US jurisdictions. Sometimes, it can be used to refer to a more serious DUI ("Driving Under the Influence") violation.

South Dakota does not use the DWI term in its legislature. Instead, drunk or drugged driving offenses are known as DUIs, and any motorist caught violating the associated laws will be prosecuted on DUI charges. However, some government agencies may occasionally use the DWI term. Bear in mind that either term describes a drunk driving offense and attracts the same penalties.

South Dakota DUI Laws

Title 32, Chapter 32 of the South Dakota Codified Laws (SDCL) contains the state's DUI laws. According to SDCL § 32-23-1, it is illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

  • Having a .08% or more blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
  • Under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and/or controlled drugs or other substances (whether prescribed or not)
  • Under the influence of any inhaled, ingested, or otherwise-consumed substance, as prohibited by SDCL § 22-42-15.

In South Dakota, the courts, law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Public Safety (DPS) work together to uphold the state's DUI laws and penalize or rehabilitate offenders. The police arrest people for driving while intoxicated, the courts impose sanctions on offenders (including fines, jail time, counseling, ignition interlock device), and the DPS oversees license revocations, a requirement for anyone convicted of a DUI in the state. Also, the Office of Highway Safety, a division of the DPS, focuses on reducing impaired driving incidents and providing educational courses to arrested or convicted persons.

DUI Penalties in South Dakota

A DUI charge in South Dakota generally comes with the following repercussions:

  • License revocation
  • Jail sentence
  • Court costs and fines
  • Alcohol or drug evaluation and education

In certain scenarios, an individual may be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for a while.

DUI Penalties for an Underage Driver

Per SDCL § 32-23-21, any person under 21 who drives, operates, or is found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .02% or more, or after consuming marijuana or any controlled drug/substance, will be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. The penalties are:

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $500
  • Driver's license suspension for 30 days, 180 days (for a second offense), and 1 year (for a third or subsequent offense)

However, the court may permit the offender to drive to and from school, work, sobriety testing, and a counseling course if the offender can show proof of financial responsibility.

DUI Penalties for a Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver

Driving a commercial motor vehicle after drinking alcohol or consuming drugs (or controlled substances) is illegal in South Dakota. Under the law, a person will be put out of service for 24 hours if such a person drives, operates, or is found to be in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle while any detectable amount of alcohol in their system (SDCL § 32-12A-43).

If the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) is .04% or more, the individual will lose their license for at least a year for the first offense, for life if it is the second offense, and for 3 years if found hauling hazardous materials (SDCL § 32-12A-36; SDCL § 32-12A-37).

What Happens When You Get a DWI in South Dakota?

South Dakota refers to the act of drunk or drugged driving as a DUI, but sometimes the DWI term may be used by public agencies. Either way, what happens to an individual upon getting pulled over or stopped for intoxicated driving is the same: the individual will be asked to submit to a roadside test (field sobriety or chemical test {e.g., breathalyzer test}). Failing this test leads to a person’s arrest, seizure of their driver’s license, and transportation to a police station for booking. Thus begins the DUI case.

A DUI arrest in South Dakota triggers both judicial and administrative processes. At some point, the defendant will be expected to appear in court to face the charges and see the case to its outcome. The defendant may also need to attend an administrative hearing to contest the revocation of their driver's license (if they schedule such a hearing).

Individuals who wish to contest their DUI charges or protect their rights are encouraged to get legal representation immediately. This is because a DUI, even if it is the first offense, can easily result in a loss of freedom, among other penalties.

Note that while it is not a punishable offense to decline a field sobriety test in South Dakota, refusing to take a chemical test violates the state's implied consent laws, and the driver will be subject to license revocation for at least a year. Also, if the refusal occurs in a second or subsequent DUI offense, the refusal may be admissible as evidence in a trial — thereby causing the court to intensify the punishment.

What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in South Dakota?

A first-time DUI in South Dakota is a Class 1 misdemeanor that attracts the following penalties:

  • Up to a year in jail
  • $2,000 or less in fines
  • Driver's license revocation for 30 days to a year. However, the court may allow the offender to obtain a restricted driver's license for their job, sobriety testing, school attendance, or participation in a counseling course.

In addition, any first-time DUI offender arrested with a blood alcohol concentration of .17% or higher will have to undergo mandatory evaluation by an addiction or chemical dependency counselor at their expense.

What is the Penalty for a Second DUI in South Dakota?

An individual who commits a second DUI offense in South Dakota is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and will be liable to the following:

  • Up to a year in county jail
  • $2,000 or less in fines
  • Driver's license revocation for at least a year. Nevertheless, the court may permit the offender to obtain a restricted driver's license for their job, sobriety testing, school attendance, or participation in a counseling course if the individual completes an approved chemical dependency program and shows proof of financial responsibility.

If the offender is convicted for driving without a license during the revocation period, it will result in a jail term for at least 3 days (the court may not suspend the sentence).

What Happens After a Third DUI in South Dakota?

Upon a third conviction for a DUI in South Dakota, an individual will be charged with a Class 6 felony which results in:

  • Up to 2 years in state prison
  • Up to $4,000 in fines
  • Driver's license revocation for a minimum of one year. The court may allow the offender to get a restricted license to meet employment, sobriety testing, school, and counseling demands if the individual can show proof of financial responsibility. However, if the offender is convicted of driving without a license during the revocation period, the court will impose a jail term of at least 10 days.

Fourth and Subsequent DUI Offenses

In South Dakota, an individual can also be convicted of a fourth, fifth, and sixth or subsequent DUI. A fourth DUI is a Class 5 felony that attracts a $10,000 fine, a maximum prison term of 5 years, and license revocation for at least 2 years. Meanwhile, a fifth DUI is a Class 4 felony that carries a maximum incarceration term of 10 years, a $20,000 fine, and license revocation for at least 3 years.

Lastly, suppose it is a person's sixth or subsequent DUI. In that case, if at least 5 convictions occurred within 25 years and at least 2 of the previous convictions occurred within 10 years, the DUI is an aggravated offense and a Class 4 felony.

The penalties for a sixth or subsequent DUI are similar to those assessed for a fifth DUI, except that the offender will be subject to post-release supervision (if released due to a suspended sentence), probation, or parole. The supervision may include at least one of the following enhanced monitoring tools:

  • Ignition interlock device
  • Participation in a drug or alcohol accountability course
  • Alcohol monitoring bracelet, etc.

For a fourth or subsequent offense, the court may allow the offender to drive to and from school, work, sobriety testing, and a counseling course if the party completes an approved addiction counseling program and maintains financial responsibility as given by SDCL § 32-35-113. Also, getting convicted of driving without a license during any license revocation period can cause an offender to be sentenced to county jail for at least 20 days.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in South Dakota?

A DUI does not leave a person's driving record in South Dakota. The violation will remain permanently on the record and accessible to employers, government agencies, and insurance companies.

However, although erasing the arrest or conviction is not possible, South Dakota allows the parties mentioned above to access only the last three years of a person's driving history. Record holders ordinarily have access to their entire driving history and the three-year driving record if they prefer it.

DUI Expungement in South Dakota

An expungement is a legal procedure initiated to clear a criminal record. Sometimes, it involves destroying the physical record and other electronic traces of it. Other times, an expungement could just mean the sealing of a record (i.e., limiting access to only a few authorized people).

South Dakota's expungement laws are contained in Sections 23A-3-26 through 37 of the state's code. According to SDCL § 23A-3-26, an expungement in South Dakota does not pertain to the physical destruction of a record but rather to its sealing from public view.

The state allows persons arrested on DUI charges to file a motion with the court to expunge the arrest from their criminal record. An arrested person is qualified to file for an expungement with the court:

  • After a year from the arrest date, if no charges are filed
  • After a year from the date that a prosecutor formally dismissed the case
  • At any time following an acquittal

It is usually not possible to expunge a DUI conviction in South Dakota unless the offender requests and receives clemency (otherwise known as a pardon) or unless the offender was a minor when the offense occurred.

For an underage DUI offender convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor, the court will automatically remove the conviction from the offender's public record once five years have passed, all court-imposed sentences and conditions have been satisfied, and no other offense occurred within those five years (SDCL § 23A-3-34). Bear in mind that the case record will still be available to court staff, and the court may use the record to enhance penalties for subsequent DUI violations.

The forms and instructions for the expungement process can be obtained from the South Dakota Unified Judicial System's self-help site.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in South Dakota?

Very likely. An individual can serve time in jail for a first DUI in South Dakota. This penalty is imposed regardless of the offender's age.

The term of confinement is shorter for minors (30 days or less). However, if the offender is an adult, a first DUI can lead to imprisonment in county jail for up to a year.

What is the Average Cost of DUI in South Dakota?

Getting charged or convicted of a DUI in South Dakota comes with a range of penalties and costs. In the end, a defendant will find themselves spending thousands of dollars for violating the state's intoxicated driving laws.

Naturally, the DUI costs differ in each person's case and by the county where the arrest or conviction took place, but will generally include:

  • Criminal fines
  • Court fines
  • Car towing and impound costs
  • Additional costs for insurance
  • Attorney fees
  • Jail, sentencing, and probation fees
  • Fees to install and maintain an ignition interlock (if the use of the device is required)
  • Fees for an alcohol education program
  • Fees for chemical dependency evaluation
  • License revocation costs
  • Lost wages
  • Bail
  • Cost for a chemical test to determine alcohol blood concentration
  • Financial responsibility costs
  • Alternate transportation costs

For a first DUI offense, a defendant can expect to spend up to $2,000 in criminal fines, $225 to $1,000 for bail, $50 to $200 for license reinstatement, and more. The total may come up to $6,000, but it could easily be more. However, the sum will increase if the case goes to trial or if it is a third or subsequent offense.

How Much is Bail for a DUI in South Dakota?

Not all impaired drivers face a night in jail in South Dakota upon a DUI arrest. Sometimes, the arresting officer will process the offender and take them home after impounding their vehicle. However, if booked into jail on DUI charges, a person may be released on personal recognizance (on their word that they will appear for a court hearing) or by posting a bond (a financial guarantee of one's court appearance). In rare cases — usually, when there is an aggravating factor — the court may keep an individual in jail until their next court date.

South Dakota uses a bail bond system for DUI offenders. According to the fine and bond schedule of the South Dakota circuit courts, the bond set for first or second DUI is $225 to $1,000, while for a third or subsequent DUI, it is $1,000 to $5,000.

How to Get My License Back After a DUI in South Dakota?

Anyone convicted of drunk driving charges in South Dakota will typically have their license revoked for a while. For a first-time DUI, the revocation period lasts at least 30 days. This duration increases with repeat offenses.

To get a driver's license back after the revocation period is over, an individual must apply to the Department of Public Safety. The Department requires that the individual take all relevant tests (vision, drive, and knowledge tests) and pay the application and reinstatement fees. It costs $50 to $200 to recover a revoked license in South Dakota.

How Does a DUI Affect Your Life in South Dakota?

In South Dakota, a DUI charge or conviction can have a lasting impact on one's finances and reputation. Apart from the direct effects of a DUI charge (jail, fines, counseling, etc.), an individual may endure the following:

  • Employment issues (e.g., loss of job or promotion, limited employment prospects)
  • Hiked car insurance rates or cancellation of insurance policy
  • Travel or immigration challenges
  • School admission issues
  • Loss of professional licenses
  • Loss of scholarship
  • Loss of custodial rights (if there is a pending custody case)
  • Civil lawsuit (if someone else was injured due to the DUI)
  • Strain on personal/professional relationships and mental health

Can You Get Fired for a DUI in South Dakota?

Maybe. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this question. As companies differ in the products and solutions they offer, so do they differ in their policies. As such, a person charged with or convicted of a DUI in South Dakota may retain their job.

However, some employers take DUI arrests and convictions more seriously than others, especially when there is a specific clause in one's employment contract or handbook forbidding such drunk driving acts or if the DUI makes the employee unfit to do their job. In these cases, the employee can be fired immediately.

Professionals that may be affected by a DUI include teachers, medical practitioners, health care providers, company and commercial truck drivers, persons working with children or vulnerable adults, etc.

How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in South Dakota?

A DUI checkpoint or "sobriety checkpoint" is a tool used by law enforcement officers in the United States to find intoxicated drivers and discourage drunk driving habits. This type of barricade can be set up on roads and highways. While not all states legalize the use of these checkpoints, South Dakota is one of 38 states that view DUI checkpoints as constitutional, and the state conducts these checkpoints every month.

South Dakota's Department of Public Safety releases sobriety checkpoints lists online each month. Therefore, an individual who wants to find a DUI checkpoint in the state can search the state news site. Each press release contains the number of sobriety checkpoints held in the particular month and the counties where the roadblocks will be established.

Other than the DPS, online news publications publish these lists.

Which is Worse, DUI vs. DWI?

A drunk or drugged driving offense in South Dakota is referred to as a DUI, not a DWI. However, members of the public and some public agencies adopt the DWI term at times. Despite the expression used, a DUI or DWI is the same offense, and whoever is caught driving intoxicated in South Dakota will face the penalties applicable to that offense from the law.