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Laws Regulating Motorcycles in South Dakota

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | Motorcycle Accidents

Laws Regulating Motorcycles in South Dakota

South Dakota is a state with plenty of motorcycle traffic, including bikes that come from all over the U.S. to the annual rally in Sturgis. When riding in South Dakota, bikers must comply with very strict laws aimed at increasing motorcycle safety and reducing the number of bike accidents.

No matter how safe you are as a rider, though, you still might find yourself the victim of an accident caused by the negligent driver of another vehicle. As long as you’re in compliance with the motorcycle laws discussed below and do not cause the crash, the driver who’s at fault for the accident is responsible for your damages.

South Dakota Motorcycle Laws

Legal requirements for South Dakota motorcycles and their riders are listed below:


A motorcyclist must be at least 16 and pass written, road, and vision tests to obtain a license. A rider under 18 is also required to obtain an Instruction Permit and have no traffic violations for six months before applying for a motorcycle license, which is valid for five years.


Adult motorcyclists are not required to wear helmets in South Dakota, but riders and passengers under 18 are. A passenger in a sidecar is not required to wear a helmet.

Eye protection

Riders must wear glasses or goggles (un-tinted at night) unless the bike has a windscreen high enough to protect the rider’s eyes.


A passenger seat and footrest are required for a second person on the bike. Sitting on the rear fender while the bike is in motion is a misdemeanor.

Riding abreast

Two bikes may not ride side-by-side or pass one another in the same lane. Riding between lanes to pass slow or stopped vehicles is also prohibited.


A motorcycle must have at least one and no more than two operational headlights, as well as one red taillight visible from at least 500 feet. Working turn signals are also required.


You must have mirrors mounted on both the right- and left-hand sides of your motorcycle.


Your handle grips must be no higher than the level of your shoulders when you’re sitting on your bike.


A functional muffler is required to prevent excessive noise, although there is no official maximum decibel limit.


A motorcyclist must carry liability insurance with minimum South Dakota coverage limits.

Sober riding

Motorcyclists are held to the same sobriety standards that other South Dakota drivers are. A rider with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above 0.08% can be cited for driving while intoxicated (DWI). Such a charge carries heavy penalties, including fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.

Despite strict enforcement of these motorcycle laws and safety requirements, which are followed by the great majority of South Dakota motorcyclists, biker bias still exists among a significant number of people who assume all riders are reckless outlaws responsible for their own crashes. In fact, the opposite is true. Many motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, and a large number of car-motorcycle crashes are caused by the driver of the car, not by the motorcyclist.

Motorcycle Wreck Injuries

Because you have, at best, only heavy clothing and a helmet to protect you in the event of a motorcycle accident with a larger vehicle.

You’re likely to suffer severe injuries including:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Spinal Cord Damage
  • Paralysis
  • Road rash
  • Broken Bones
  • Lacerations
  • Scarring
  • Burns
  • Damaged Joints
  • Biker’s arm
  • Amputations

If your accident was caused by the other driver, you’re entitled to file a claim against that driver’s insurance company for your medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Because serious injuries like these mean very high medical expenses and a long recovery process resulting in significant lost income, the defendant’s insurer is apt to dispute your claim or offer you a quick, low settlement that you should not accept. While you’re focused on your recovery, possibly in pain, or taking prescribed medication, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine reasonable compensation for your damages, including long-term care and pain and suffering.

Have You Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in South Dakota?

An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you overcome biker bias, demand reasonable compensation, and negotiate for a fair award while you focus on your recovery. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call us at 605-644-5003 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees unless we win.