South Dakota DUI Laws & Attorneys
by Joshua Dale
Attention: The State of South Dakota suspends or revokes your license after a DUI arrest unless you, or your lawyer, demand a hearing and fight for your Rights. Don't miss the deadline!
South Dakota used to be deserving of its rough and rowdy reputation, famous for its raucous and cantankerous residents such as Wild Bill Hitchcock, Calamity Jane and the last stand of Colonel Custer. Now days if you get too rowdy on the road, even on a horse or a bike, rest assured you’ll face tough and uncompromising South Dakota DUI laws.
South Dakota’s DUI ‘per se’ law states that a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% by itself constitutes impairment to a degree that you are assumed to be unsafe behind the wheel. However, you can also be prosecuted for driving ‘under the influence’ if it can be proven that you were driving in an unsafe manner or had a BAC of .05% to .08% Under this theory circumstantial evidence, such as slurred speech, blood shot, watery eyes, unbalanced coordination, hazardous driving, and field sobriety tests can be proof that a driver was “under the influence”.
Every driver in South Dakota has given their ‘implied consent’ for a blood alcohol test (BAC) when they received a license. This means their breath, blood, or urine will be tested for alcohol and/or drugs when under the suspicion of a South Dakota DUI charge. You should note that you have the right to a second test at your own expense at a place of your choice. When blood is drawn with or without a request from law enforcement, it is extremely important to have your South Dakota DUI attorney contact the hospital or lab immediately with notice of the federal confidentiality law and to assert your patient’s rights regarding confidentiality of medical records.
If you haven’t been drinking or you believe that you might have been “impaired” from a benign source such as alcohol based paint or solvents, mouthwash, prescription or over-the-counter drugs be aware you can still be arrested for a South Dakota DUI, even though you are not “legally drunk”.
South Dakota does not have a separate administrative per se action against the accused drunk driver’s license. Although the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows the court system to impose South Dakota DUI penalties and does not require a separate administrative DUI hearing, they can impose DUI penalties. (See administrative penalties below).
Be advised that South Dakota has an out-of-state Driver’s License Compact Agreement. This means that a South Dakota DUI conviction will be reported to your home state which will generally take action to suspend your license. South Dakota DUI convictions for out-of-state drivers can also create other complications. Consequently, it’s imperative that you contact a local South Dakota DUI attorney to walk you through the procedures and insure that you don’t face complications with bail, jail, and your driving privileges.
Across the country DUI laws and evidentiary procedures are being challenged, while at the same time state laws are becoming more severe. To be certain that you have the correct and current knowledge contact a South Dakota DUI specialist. In any case, when you are stopped and arrested for suspicion of a South Dakota DUI, request to see a DUI attorney, the sooner the better.
– Info You Should Know –
Was I Stopped Legally?
Basically you were stopped because of an equipment failure or an officer had probable cause to think you were driving in an impaired manner. Arrests for drunk driving in every state focuses on four areas: driving patterns, physical appearance, field sobriety tests, and chemical tests.
Not all reasons offered by officers are legal. Check with a South Dakota DUI attorney who will examine all the different aspects of your case, will defend you aggressively and try to mitigate any penalties.
Should I Have Talked To the Cop?
Remember that you don’t have to answer any questions that will incriminate you. Most people say that they have had a "couple of drinks” which is not necessarily incriminating. However such "statements of consumption" will be used against them in court or at a hearing.
And if you plan to refuse a sobriety test – which may not be the best action – you should inform the officer who stopped you that you would rather wait until instructed by a South Dakota DUI lawyer. But be advised if you refuse the test under the implied consent law you can lose your license on the spot, and probably for many months.
Did I Have A Right To Make A Call?
Law enforcement officers are not required to advise you of this right. But once a request is made, they are obligated to provide an opportunity to make a call, hopefully to a South Dakota DUI specialist.
I’m Simply Going To Plead Guilty, Why Do I Need A South Dakota DUI Lawyer?
The penalties and the numerous, complicated laws relating to motor vehicles, DUI charges and South Dakota drunk driving laws should be taken very seriously. South Dakota DUI convictions and penalties can be long lasting and severe, both in court and with the South Dakota Division of Motor Vehicles regulates your driving privileges.
Experienced and skilled legal counsel may be able to help maximize your defenses thereby mitigating your penalties. A South Dakota DUI defense attorney will level the playing field between you and the prosecution in an effort to provide and preserve your constitutional rights.
When considering consulting a South Dakota DUI attorney, take into account the impact of a criminal conviction: possible loss of voting privileges, increased cost or cancellation of auto insurance, lost educational opportunities, inability to rent or own cars, restrictions on travel, damage to security clearances, job barriers, possible harm to professional credentials or certifications, and the loss of freedom. Don’t you think these rights, possessions, achievements and abilities are worth protecting?
What’s A South Dakota DUI Defense Attorney Going To Cost?
One of the biggest concerns for people charged with driving under the influence is attorney fees. As cases vary, so does cost. Most people don’t realize that money spent now on skillful help from a South Dakota DUI attorney might save them thousands of dollars in the years to come.
What Are Statutory Court Costs?
Additional costs outside of the fine for court or administrative services, regulated by state penal or vehicle codes violated. They can be costly.
Did I Have To Take a Field Sobriety Test (FST)?
Unlike blood and breath testing, submitting to a "field sobriety test" is voluntary, but do not expect an officer to inform you of this. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the only tests that have been shown to have some relevance to establishing legal intoxication are the One Leg Stand, the Heel-to Toe and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). The results of these tests will be entered as evidence against you. But even under laboratory conditions, these tests have only been established to be accurate in predicting blood alcohol content above .10% in 66% to 77% of the time.
What if I Refused To Take a BAC (blood alcohol content) Test?
Refusal carries certain penalties which may be more severe than most 1st DUI convictions. The arresting officer will take your license and it will be automatically suspended. You may request a hearing within 7 days of the arrest to contest the validity of the confiscation of your driver’s license.
This hearing is not a trial and producing evidence of innocence and the burden of proof bears upon the accused.
Can I Plea Bargain?
It is next to impossible to plea bargain a South Dakota drunk driving charge without an experienced South Dakota DUI lawyer. Often effective DUI counsel will be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge.
A plea bargain means that you agree to plead guilty to some lesser charge or having your attorney and prosecutor mitigate the penalties. Practiced South Dakota DUI attorneys often times will be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser charge as many cases are resolved prior to trial. The plea bargain is extremely advantageous to anyone accused of a South Dakota DUI, but remember even a conviction to a lesser charge will still count as a ‘prior’ for calculating penalties for future offenses.
I’ve Heard of A Nolo Contendere Plea, What Is It?
In legal terms, nolo contendere (Latin for “I do not wish to contest”) is an alternative to a guilty or not guilty plea. While not technically a guilty plea, a nolo plea has many of the same effects, but with some mitigating circumstances. In most states you can only plea nolo once in DUI cases. Generally a judge decides whether a nolo plea will be accepted, and it is not always available.
In any case, without the services of a veteran South Dakota DUI specialist, specialized pleas or plea bargaining is not possible.
Is Being Punished by the South Dakota DMV and the Criminal Courts Double Jeopardy?
Like most states, South Dakota law permits the enforcement of administrative penalties in addition to court punishments, as the state considers driving a privilege, not a right, and not subject to civil liberties. South Dakota DMV administers driver’s licenses, imposes civil penalties, serves as the judge, jury and also deals out punishment.
What Happens In Court?
You’ll have to make several appearances. In a criminal case you have the right to a jury trial with presumption of innocence, but once convicted, it can be up to the judge what punishment you will receive. The sentencing range, and whether the offense will be a misdemeanor or a felony, is based on a number of things including the number of priors. These convictions include any previous South Dakota administrative or criminal court drunk driving suspensions, for refusal to submit to a BAC test, or any ‘operating while intoxicated’ convictions in other states. There are also penalty enhancements due to aggravated circumstances.
In addition, a judge may require you to participate in alcohol or drug treatment programs as part of a parole (probation) program or have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, or even have your vehicle seized and forfeited.
Can I Get a Limited Driver's License?
After completion of a chemical dependency program, the court may issue a restricted permit for purposes of work, school. counseling programs, and medical treatment.
What About Enhanced Punishments For South Dakota DUI Convictions?
Many circumstances may lead to sentence enhancements: prior DUI convictions, the presence of a child in the car, speeding, reckless driving, an elevated BAC level, or causing an accident with injuries or property damage.
Any time you face multiple or ‘aggravated’ charges, or if death, injuries or sizeable property damage occurs, the fallout for South Dakota multiple or enhanced convictions will get very heavy, including thousands of dollars in fines, mandatory years of imprisonment, massive restitution and a loss of license and vehicles for years, if not permanently. We strongly recommend retaining an experienced South Dakota DUI attorney in order to secure the best possible outcome of a potentially severe situation.
South Dakota’s ‘Look Back’ Period
A "look back" period is the length of time that a prior DUI offense can be counted as a ‘prior’, and used to enhance your penalties. South Dakota’s is ten years.
What About My Insurance?
Your insurance rates will probably increase or be cancelled. Rates for your family members, or even for your employer (if you use a company car), may increase as well.
–South Dakota DUI Criminal Penalties –
Up to $1,000 fine.
Up to 1 year in jail.
30 days driver’s license suspension.
Up to 1 year in jail.
1 year loss of license.
Mandatory Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment.
Installation of ignition interlock device.
Possible vehicle confiscation.
SR – 22, or proof of financial responsibility.
Up to 2 years imprisonment.
1 year license suspension after incarceration.
Mandatory Alcohol Education and assessment/treatment.
Installation of ignition interlock device.
Possible vehicle confiscation.
SR – 22 or proof of financial responsibility.
All of the above.
Lifetime ban of driver’s license.
30 days to 1 year suspension of license.
1 year suspension of license.
Up to 2 years in jail.
5 years in jail.
Up to 5 years loss of license.
Commercial Driver’s License
1st offense 1 year license disqualification.
3 years disqualification while hauling hazardous material.
Lifetime disqualification for subsequent offense.
Underage DUI Penalties
BAC of .02%
3 months loss of license.
6 months loss of license.
Up to $1000 fine.
1st refusal of BAC test:
6 months loss of license.
1 year license suspension.
Alcohol Education and Assessment/Treatment for all the above offenses.
– South Dakota Division of Motor Vehicles Administration Penalties –
South Dakota is one of the few states that does not have an administrative license suspension or revocation associated with a DUI arrest or conviction. Any administrative suspension or revocation ordered by the court is a part of the DUI criminal trial. The DMV does have the right to suspend your license for 90 days for the 1st offense; 1 year for the 2nd offense; 3 years for 3rd offense; and has the ability to confiscate vehicles.
– Disclaimer –
Only experienced South Dakota DUI attorneys should provide you with bonified legal advice concerning South Dakota DUI laws. Consequently, the aforementioned information on this web site should not be construed as legal advice, rather suggestions and a range of helpful information and should not be substituted for speaking with accredited South Dakota DUI attorneys. There is no warrantee, expressed or implied herein. These issues are complicated, laws change and litigation takes experience. Please let us refer you to a seasoned professional South Dakota DUI attorney specializing in DUI cases.
– Citations –
Driver Licensing Program
118 W. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, S.D. 57501
Toll Free: 1-800-952-3696
South Dakota Codified Laws Ch. to 32-23-1 to 32-23-23