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Underage DUI in South Dakota

All 50 states view a BAC of 0.08 or greater as “per se” evidence of intoxication, meaning that the police need no evidence other than a BAC at this level to induce a driver’s culpability.  In other words, the police do not need any additional evidence to prove a driver’s intoxication if they show the driver had a BAC of 0.08 or greater.  This threshold is much lower when considering drivers under the legal drinking age of 21, however.  All states also follow “zero tolerance” BAC laws, meaning minors are culpable if they are found driving with any alcohol in their systems, or at least trace amounts of alcohol in some states.

In South Dakota the zero tolerance BAC level for minors is 0.02, meaning any minor found to have a BAC of 0.02 or greater while driving will be arrested for violation of this law.  Such a violation is considered a class 2 misdemeanor in South Dakota.  A first offense will result in the driver’s license being suspended for 30 days.  A second time offender’s license will be suspended for 180 days.  Any further violations result in license suspension for one year.  A minor found with a BAC of 0.08 or greater (the level of capability for drivers over 21) is subject to the same fines and or penalties as a driver over the age of 21 would be in the same situation.  Another similarity to of-age offenders is that the court has the discretion to allow the convicted person to drive for purposes of employment, attendance at school, or to access counseling programs.  However, in this situation first the driver must show proof of financial responsibility in the form of valid auto insurance before his license will be considered for reinstatement.

It is important to remember that drugs other than alcohol also effect levels of inebriation and are also included in South Dakota’s zero tolerance law.  In addition to the 0.02 BAC threshold, any minor who has consumed marijuana or other controlled substances is also guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor for as long as there is physical evidence of the consumption in the driver’s body.


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