Maybe you’re planning a trip to South Dakota to visit Wall Drug and Mount Rushmore. You could also be a lifelong resident. Either way, it makes sense to learn the state’s drug and alcohol laws. This includes:

  • Penalties for impaired driving
  • Zero tolerance laws for underage drivers
  • Medical and recreational marijuana laws
  • Penalties for other crimes related to drugs and alcohol

Not knowing the law in South Dakota is no excuse for breaking it. Stay safe by learning laws and penalties related to alcohol and drug use.

DUI Laws in South Dakota

Drivers in South Dakota are impaired if their blood alcohol level (BAC) is above .08. All drivers charged with DUI must pay a reinstatement fee. The state also requires a new driving, knowledge, and vision test. Drivers with a second DUI in a year also need to show proof of financial responsibility. This is SR-22 insurance at a much higher rate.

Zero Tolerance Laws for South Dakota

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that South Dakota has a zero tolerance policy for all drivers under 21. Young drivers cannot have any measurable drugs or alcohol in their system. Legally, South Dakota enforces a .02 BAC for drivers aged 16 to 20.

Law enforcement will charge any young driver with a BAC higher than .02 with DUI. The penalties depend on whether it’s the first offense. A first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Minors will most likely serve any jail time in juvenile detention. Young adults will serve at the county jail. The judge will probably require community service as well.

Is Marijuana Legal in South Dakota?

South Dakota currently doesn’t permit any use of marijuana. This includes both medical and recreational use. In November 2020, South Dakota will vote whether to legalize recreational use. This only applies to adults age 21 or older. They will also vote on legalizing medical marijuana at that time. The measure is only good for people with serious health conditions. Medical patients could possess up to three ounces of marijuana at one time.

The Marijuana Policy Project states that South Dakota has some of the harshest penalties in the nation. These include:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to a $2,000 fine
  • Fine and/or jail sentence for testing positive after returning to South Dakota from another state, even if marijuana is legal in that state
  • Up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for possession or distribution of hash

Drug and Alcohol Related Crimes

Possession, manufacturing, or distribution of a Class I or Class II scheduled narcotic can have serious consequences in South Dakota. A first offense means at least one year in a state penitentiary. Judges cannot suspend this sentence. A second offense or more comes with a 10-year prison sentence. Judges can also impose a civil penalty up to $10,000.

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety takes drunk and drugged driving very seriously. Drivers face the following penalties for DUI:

  • First offense: The first DUI offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Drivers found guilty lose their license for at least 30 days to one year. First-time offenders pay a fine up to $1,000. They can also spend up to one year in jail.
  • Second offense: Drivers with a second DUI lose their license for one year. They also need to complete chemical dependency counseling and get special insurance. Other penalties for a second offense include jail time of up to one year and a fine up to $2,000.
  • Third offense: This is a Class 6 felony. Punishments include at least a one-year driver’s license suspension. Drivers also need to pay a fine up to $4,000 and spend up to two years in jail.

South Dakota judges have a lot of leeway when charging impaired drivers. They can require chemical dependency treatment, an evaluation, random drug testing, house arrest, and more. This depends on the driver’s circumstances and past offenses. BAC can also be a factor. Drivers can face additional charges for refusing to take a blood or breath test.

Worried You May Be Addicted? Get Help Today

Knowing the drug and alcohol laws in South Dakota is the first step. If you feel you’re in danger of addiction, get help now to prevent future health and legal problems.


  1. Financial responsibility law in South Dakota (2017)
  2. Zero tolerance laws in South Dakota (December 2014)
  3. Marijuana recreational and medical vote in South Dakota (January 2020)
  4. Marijuana use and possession penalties in South Dakota (January 2020)
  5. Drug possession/distribution laws in South Dakota (2020)
  6. Penalties for impaired driving in South Dakota (2017)

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