Welcome to Legal Help
Home South Dakota DUI Laws DUI Legal Process in South Dakota

Free Help – Ask Your DUI Questions

legal dui questions

Choose a State

DUI Legal Process in South Dakota

The DUI process in South Dakota involves an arraignment, a preliminary hearing, and possibly a trial and an appeal as well.  When a person is arrested for DUI in South Dakota, the arresting officer has up to 48 hours to inform the accused of the charges against him, or alternatively to bring the defendant before a judge.  This 48-hour requirement can be waived, however, if the police can show an emergency or some sort of unusual consequences such that they need more time to develop a charge.  In South Dakota, the police do not have the option of releasing defendants who are charged with misdemeanors.  This contrasts with many other states, as the officer must arrest the driver and bring him to jail or in front of a judge.

After a person is arrested and taken to the police station, there is an arraignment where the convict pleads guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the charges in front of a judge.  It is at this stage that a defendant may request to speak with his attorney.  If he has no lawyer, he has the right to be appointed one by the state.  Then dates will be set for pre-trial hearings.

On arrest, convicts may have to pay bail to be released.  This is based on the suspect’s previous criminal history as well as seriousness of the offense in question and the suspect’s behavior around police.  Often a suspect is released on his “own recognizance”, meaning no bail is paid but rather the suspect merely signs a form promising to appear in court when summoned.  Bail is normally granted in most DUI cases in South Dakota, and a defendant with a DUI charge is typically entitled to a preliminary hearing in the state.  During this hearing, the court will analyze if a crime has in fact been committed and whether the convicted person is probably in fact guilty of the crime.  Witnesses and evidence can be offered by the state and then refuted by the defense.  If the court determines the defendant is likely guilty of the charges brought against him, the defendant must plead guilty, or alternatively go to trial by pleading not guilty to the charges.  First or second violations (misdemeanors) can be tried in magistrate or circuit court in South Dakota.  However, further violations (felonies) can only be tried in circuit court.  Most cases in South Dakota do not go past the preliminary hearing stage.  In most cases, arraignment is the last exposure in court for the defendant, since many defendants are opposed by strong evidence of driving intoxicated.

However, if a plea is not granted or the sides refuse to compromise there will be a trial.  This will involve both the prosecution and the defense making preliminary opening statements, followed by the prosecution presenting its evidence and witnesses.  The defense has the option of cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses.  The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  The defense may rely on this burden and hope the state is unsuccessful with its charge, or additionally the defense can bring forward its own case and evidence to rebut the evidence offered by the prosecution.  Criminal trials in South Dakota require juries of 12 people, unless the defendant specifically requests a bench trial where the judge or a panel of judges decides the outcome at their discretion without the assistance of a jury.  If there is a jury, the members are selected from a larger group of potential jurors based on both the prosecutions and the defenses preferences, as both sides have the ability to exclude potential jurors by using “peremptory challenges”.  After closing arguments are made, the jury will be issued its instructions by the judge and will deliberate until they agree on a verdict.  The verdict reached by the jury must be unanimous, meaning all jurors are in agreement as to the outcome.

If a defendant loses the case and is convicted, he has the option to appeal the charge in South Dakota.  If you lose the case (through trial or on appeal), there are several potential penalties, including fines and prison sentences, depending on the nature of the conviction and the defendant’s previous criminal history and behavior.  The defendant may also be subject to some sort of probation or alternatively community service programs to promote public welfare.  Some states will force convicts to install “ignition interlock” devices in their cars to prevent driving above a certain BAC level, though such devises are not used in South Dakota.


If you have any questions about speeding tickets, please ask them at our legal help forum. free legal questions

Ask Questions, Get Answers

free legal help forum

Contact a DUI Lawyer Today!