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DUI Penalties in South Dakota

If conviction is for a first offense, the defendant driver is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor and his driving privileges are revoked for not less than thirty days (but no more than one year).  The court, at its discretion, may allow such defendants to continue driving for certain reasons such as employment, attendance at school, or other reasons such as attendance at counseling programs.  The court also has the discretion to prescribe jail time in addition to suspending the convict’s license.  The court may also issue a fine of up to $2,000 plus court costs.

A second offense of §32-23-1 is also considered a class 1 misdemeanor and will lead to an unconditional revocation of the defendant’s license for no less than one year.  If this defendant is convicted of driving without a license during this period, that person will be sentenced to at least three days in prison.  A second conviction alone can result in up to one year of jail time, with any resulting jail time being at the court’s discretion and in addition to a $2,000 fine plus court costs.  Despite a defendant’s license being suspended for one year or more; second offenders may be able to acquire a license with restricted privileges (such as ability to drive to school or work) after successful completion of a state-approved chemical dependency program.

A third violation results in a class 6 felony leading to a period of suspended license for at least one year from the date of sentencing or release from jail, whichever is later.  The maximum prison sentence for a third time offender is two years.  The court maintains the discretion to decide the precise length of the period of suspension.  If the defendant completes a court-approved counseling program, then the court can allow the defendant to drive for purposes of employment or attendance at school or in counseling programs.  A third conviction will lead to a fine of up to $4,000 plus court costs.

A fourth violation is considered a class 5 felony, and requires the court to suspend the defendant’s license for at least two years from the date of sentencing or release from jail, whichever is later.  A fourth time offender may spend up to five years in jail and pay fines up to $10,000 plus court costs.  Such offenders may also obtain restricted licenses after completed a court-approved program.

A fifth violation or more is considered a class 4 felony and the court must suspend the license for at least 3 years from the date of sentencing or release from jail, whichever is later.  A fifth violation may lead to up to 10 years in prison as well as fines of up to $20,000 plus court costs.  With a fifth violation, the court may still use its discretion to allow such a person to drive for purposes of employment or attendance at certain places (such as school) after completion of a court-approved chemical dependency program.

With regard to the number of offenses committed, convictions under §22-18-36 or §22-16-41 are included for purposes of DUI laws in terms of the number of convictions a defendant has been subject to.  This means unrelated convictions such as homicide or assault can lead to an increased penalty for a DUI defendant.  If a defendant cannot afford to pay or refuses to pay a fine in question, the court may at its discretion force him to serve jail time as compensation.

As noted above in the summary of DUI laws, the penalties for such a conviction can vary depending on how many previous felonies the defendant has committed or been charged with.  Specifically, the charge could either be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the number of other offenses committed by the defendant as well as the seriousness of the charges and the level of risk associated with them in terms of public health and benefit.  Among the various penalties in South Dakota for such a violation include fines as well as prison sentences (both short and long term) as well as suspension of driving rights, often for a period of months or years.  Even after committing multiple offenses, drivers have the ability to apply for limited privilege licenses in order to drive for necessity, such as to school or work.

In addition to the penalties prescribed by the court system, there are additional bridges to cross in South Dakota to acquire the privilege of driving once again.  When a defendant is convicted of driving under the influence, the South Dakota Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) requires he show proof of financial responsibility in the form of a South Dakota SR22 insurance policy meeting the minimum requirements of the state in terms of auto insurance.  A fee must also be paid to the MVD between $50 and $200.

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