Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offense committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver’s blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.
In South Dakota, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.
REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN SOUTH DAKOTA
In South Dakota, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years. However, even with a BAC between 0.05% and 0.08%, you can still be booked if you show signs of impairment. For drivers below 21 years of age, the BAC limit is set at 0.02% and for commercial drivers; the limit is set at 0.04%. If you are behind the wheel with keys in the ignition, you are taken to be driving, even if the vehicle is not in motion.
Having a South Dakota license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of “implied consent” and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being revoked for a year.
Points may be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:
If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice. There is a ten-year ‘look-back’ period for counting repeat offenses.
- The first offense is treated as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Imprisonment for up to a year and/or a fine of up to $2000 may be imposed.
- Your license will be suspended for 30 days to a year.
- The court may grant you restricted driving privileges to go to work and back as well as to attend counselling session mandated by it for part or all of the period of suspension.
- The second offense is also treated as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Imprisonment for up to a year and/or a fine of up to $2000 may be imposed.
- Your license will be revoked for at least one year.
- If you drive during that period, you will have to spend at least three days in jail.
- The third offense is treated as a Class 6 Felony and may result in imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine of up to $4000.
- Your license will be revoked for at least a year from the date of sentencing or release from jail, whichever is later.
- Driving during this period will attract a mandatory 10 days in jail
- The fourth offense is treated as a Class 5 Felony and may result in imprisonment for up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10000.
- Your license will be revoked for at least two years from the date of sentencing or release from jail, whichever is later.
- Driving during this period will attract a mandatory 20 days in jail
- The fifth or subsequent offense is treated as a Class 4 Felony and may result in imprisonment for up to ten years and/or a fine of up to $20000.
- Your license will be revoked for at least three years from the date of sentencing or release from jail, whichever is later.
- Driving during this period will attract a mandatory 20 days in jail
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21
The BAC limit for minors below 21 is 0.02%. The penalties are similar to what a person over 21 faces for a BAC of 0.08%.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS
If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
- Points will be added to your driving record and you will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%. You will also be issued an “out-of-service” order valid for 24 hours by the arresting officer.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:
South Dakota laws have administrative implications in addition to the criminal laws against DUI/DWI. An officer may arrest a driver if:
- He/she is aged 21 and above and is driving with BAC 0.08% or more.
- He/she is aged below 21 and is driving with BAC 0.02% or more.
Under this law, if you are arrested for DUI/DWI, the arresting officer will confiscate your South Dakota driver license. The driver can schedule an administrative hearing. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer beforehand. If the hearing goes against the driver, his license will be suspended or revoked based on his previous ten-year driving record. If he has any alcohol related convictions or suspensions for this period, his license will be revoked for one year, and if not, then it will be suspended for 30 days. You may be eligible to drive using the Limited Driving Privilege.
If the administrative hearing goes against the driver, he can file an appeal with the court. He will, however, have to serve the suspension/revocation until the court reaches a verdict. If the verdict is the same as the administrative hearing, then the driver will have to complete the remaining period of his suspension/revocation and then file for reinstatement of the license. If the verdict goes in favour of the driver, then his license will be returned and the suspension/revocation will be cancelled.
If the driver, however, does not request a hearing, then the suspension/revocation is final.
South Dakota does law does not provide for vehicle seizure or mandate ignition interlock. However, a recent law allows first time DUI offenders to drive if they agree to abstain from alcohol completely and report every morning and evening for a breathalyzer test at the local sheriff’s office. If they fail the test they not only lose their license but also go to jail.
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:
If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Division of Motor Vehicles, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
- South Dakota does not require any compulsory training as part of the reinstatement requirements. You must pay the reinstatement fee of $50, and maintain proof of financial responsibility by filing SR-22, if required.
- For reinstatement after the suspension period and meeting mandated conditions, contact the DMV at (605) 773-6883 or write to them at:
118 W. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501
- DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON’T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
- If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
- See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.