Rules of the Road For South Dakota Drivers

South Dakota’s state motto is “Great Faces, Great Places,” so you know you’ll want to do some driving when you visit or move here. Of course, if you’re going to spend any time behind the wheel, you’ll want to make sure that you’re familiar with South Dakota’s rules of the road.

  • In South Dakota, the driver and all passengers in the front seat of a passenger vehicle must wear seat-belts whenever the vehicle is in operation.

  • Children under the age of five must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system. Passengers under the age of 18 must also wear seat-belts, whether they are in the front seat or back seat of the vehicle.

  • Pedestrians in crosswalks always have the right of way. Motorists should look out for pedestrians when entering intersections and/or making right or left turns.

  • Motorists encountering or overtaking school buses on two-lane highways or roads should look out for flashing amber or red lights. Flashing amber lights indicate that you should slow down to no more than 20 miles per hour, and you should always stop for flashing red lights.

  • Drivers must always yield to emergency vehicles when lights and sirens are in operation. If an ambulance, fire truck, or police car is overtaking you, pull over to the side of the road to let them pass. If they are approaching an intersection, stop to let them through before proceeding.

  • Whether or not there is a bicycle lane, bicyclists have the same rights and must obey the same rules as motorists in South Dakota.

  • Flashing traffic lights can mean one of two things. A flashing yellow means slow down and proceed with caution. A flashing red means stop and make sure that the way is clear before proceeding.

  • Non-functioning traffic lights must be treated as four-way stops in South Dakota.

  • Motorcyclists under the age of 17 must wear a helmet when riding. Members of the military and students may operate motorcycles with their home state’s license if they are over 16. South Dakota residents under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian consent to getting a motorcycle license, and all residents must pass a knowledge test and a skills test.

Important laws for safe driving

  • Passing is allowed on one-way and multi-lane roads when the white dividing lines between lanes are dashed. Passing on the left is allowed when traffic is clear and the yellow dividing line on a two-lane road is dashed instead of solid. You may not cross a solid yellow or white line.

  • Right on red is allowed if you first come to a complete stop and then see that the roadway is clear and that it is safe to proceed with the turn.

  • U-turns are permitted at most intersections where there is not a “No U-Turns” sign. Do not attempt a U-turn if you have limited visibility of the road ahead of or behind you.

  • As with most states, at a four-way stop you must always come to a complete stop. If you arrive at the same time as another vehicle, yield to the vehicle to your right. You should also yield to any vehicles that arrive before you.

  • Blocking intersections is never legal. If traffic is not moving to allow you to clear the intersection, you must wait until there is space for you to get your vehicle through and out of the intersection.

  • Ramp-metering signals look like traffic signals, but they are placed at on-ramps for freeways in densely trafficked areas. Only one car is allowed to proceed per green light, and there may be two meters for on-ramps with two lanes, one for each lane.

  • In South Dakota, driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher for drivers who are 21 and older, and between 0.02 and 0.08 for drivers under 21. For minors, even a first offense is a class two misdemeanor. For adults, the first and second offense are class one misdemeanors, and the third is a felony.

  • Drivers who are not involved in accidents should not stop or obstruct traffic at the site of a crash. Those involved in the accident should stop their vehicles at or near the accident site and find a safe place to wait for the police. If someone is injured, give all reasonable assistance while waiting on an ambulance to arrive. If there is extensive damage to either vehicle and/or there are injuries, call the police to report the accident.

  • Radar detectors are permitted in South Dakota for private vehicles, but not for commercial ones.

  • South Dakota motorists must show valid license plates on the front and back of their vehicles.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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