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What Are Traffic Violations and Infractions in South Dakota?

Traffic violations are offenses against South Dakota traffic rules, which are designed to keep road users safe. Law enforcement authorities such as the South Dakota Department of Transportation are allowed to impose fines on persons who commit traffic violations or offenses. South Dakota Office of Highway Safety (SDOHS) creates public awareness to reduce the number of road traffic accidents and fatalities. Traffic infractions define minor crimes caused by road users, while violations are related to more severe offenses classified as misdemeanors and felonies.

The traffic offenses of the state are classified and punished according to Title 32 Motor Vehicles. Sanctions for traffic offenses could include fines, revocation/suspension of a license, detention, parole/probation, impoundment of a vehicle, social work, or points attached to the driving history of the traffic violator. The South Dakota Department of Public Safety (SDDPS) is responsible for keeping records of driver offenses and offenses within the state.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations in South Dakota?

Felony traffic violations in South Dakota are resolved at any of the circuit courts present in each state county. Generally, felony cases are divided into nine levels. The classification is based on the severity of the crime and the maximum amount of punishment given to the offender. The three most extreme classes are A, B, and C, whereas the remaining six categories are listed from one to six. More severe crimes are listed under Class A offenses, while the least serious are Class 6 felonies.

● Class A: life imprisonment (or death) and fines of up to $ 50,000.

● Class B: Life jail and fines of up to $ 50,000.

● Class C: Life jail, and fines of up to $ 50,000.

● Class 1. Up to fifty years in jail and fines amounting to $50,000.

● Class 2. Up to twenty-five years in jail and fines amounting to $50,000.

● Class 3. Up to fifteen years in jail and fines amounting to $30,000.

● Class 4. Close to ten years in jail and fines amounting to $20,000.

● Class 5. Close to five years in jail and fines amounting to $10,000.

● Class 6. Close to two years in jail and fines amounting to $4,000.

South Dakota also allows courts to place additional charges on offenders that have been convicted of a criminal offense and who have committed violence in the past.

Offenders who are convicted of a crime and have one or two previous convictions of a felony will have their sentence raised to the next degree of severity. For instance, people convicted of a Class 5 felony who was earlier found guilty of a crime will increase their sentences as if the person is committing a Class 4 felony. A person with one or two previous convictions of a felony, therefore, can not have their present conviction raised beyond an offense of Class C Felony.

Anybody found guilty of a crime that has three or more previous convictions of a felony can raise their conviction by two degrees to a maximum degree of a Class C felony. Also, anybody who has three or more previous convictions of a felony in which the commission of a violent crime requires at least one of those crimes would have automatically increased his or her sentence to that of a Class C offense.

Examples of Felony Traffic Violations in South Dakota

  • Imprudent driving of a car which results in murder (SDCL Section 32–33–4)
  • Fleeing from a law enforcement agent: This is a class 6 felony according to SDCL Section 32–33–18.2
  • Unauthorized possession of vehicle documents or possession of a fake certificate and license: This is a class 6 felony according to SDCL Section 32–4–8
  • DUI (Driving under the influence)
  • Drive with a suspended/revoked license

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors in South Dakota?

Traffic misdemeanors in South Dakota fall somewhere in between felonies and minor crimes. Most of these crimes are resolved at the county magistrate courts. South Dakota categorizes misdemeanors into one group of two: Class 1 and Class 2. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most significant, with maximum sentences of up to one year in prison and up to $2,000 in fines, while Class 2 misdemeanors deal with a probable jail sentence close to a month and up to $500 in charges. Courts might impose sanctions that require a prison term, charges, or perhaps both.

Examples of Traffic Misdemeanors in South Dakota

  • Ignoring roadblocks (SDCL Section 32–33–13)
  • Ignoring state weighing stations: According to SDCL Section 32–33–17, a motorist driving a vehicle above 10,000 pounds and refusing to stop at any nearby state weighing station commits a class 2 misdemeanor
  • Ignoring the signal of a law enforcement agent (SDCL Section 32–33–18)
  • Unauthorized handling of another person’s vehicle (SDCL Section 32–4–4)
  • Passing an emergency vehicle
  • Speeding
  • Driving without license

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction in South Dakota?

Traffic infractions in South Dakota are violations of the state’s traffic laws. This is the minimum atrocious breach of traffic; thus, the charges may not probably involve jail time. However, repeated convictions of a traffic infraction may lead to harsh penalties similar to a misdemeanor or felony.

Examples of Traffic Infractions in South Dakota?

Below are some traffic infractions in South Dakota;

● Wrong or illegitimate parking

● Loitering

● Passing a red light

● Flying over a school bus

● Making a wrong U-turn

● Careless operation of the vehicles (driving while using the mobile)

How Does Traffic Tickets Work in South Dakota?

A South Dakota traffic ticket is a legitimate notification by an officer to a road user, indicating that there has been a traffic violation. Road users given a traffic ticket are expected to respond within a stipulated time, as stated on the ticket. Refusing to pay within that time will result in additional fines, detention, or license suspension.

If a road user is given a traffic ticket, the person may respond by paying the fine for the ticket, demanding a hearing for relief, or pleading not guilty, thereby fighting the ticket. The first choice may be resolved outside the court, but the other two might still involve the appearance of the receiver in court. The ticket fine is indicated on the notice and payable either by mail, online, or in person. If an offender pleads guilty and ends up paying the charges, the person may still impose a rise in insurance rates, and the licensing department may suspend the driving license. Also, interested persons should remember that traffic offenses can be graded as;

  • Moving violations: This is a crime committed when the car is moving, and the driver is facing the consequences.
  • Non-moving violations: This is the situation when the car is stationary—improper parking, for instance.

South Dakota utilizes a point system presented on the webpage of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. The points system assigns point values to various driving offenses and traffic violations. Road users that accumulate 15 points in 12 consecutive months or 22 points in 24 consecutive months are suspended.

● 10 points for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) crimes

● 8 points for reckless driving

● 6 points for leaving the scene of an accident

● 6 points for drag racing

● 4 points for failing to yield right of way

● 4 points for improper passing

● 4 points for driving on the wrong side of the road

● 3 points for ignoring traffic signs

● 2 points for other moving violations

Are Driving Records Public In South Dakota?

Yes, driving records are public records as contained in the South Dakota Sunshine Laws. As such, state residents can gain access to these records by querying the approved record custodian. A driving history includes details of points from traffic violations, injuries, and convictions obtained by a driver. However, the only exception is the confidential or sensitive files.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

● The name of the record owner, unless said person is a juvenile

● The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Find Driving Records In South Dakota?

Requesters can obtain a certified abstract of a driving record from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. The document contains information such as traffic violations, details of the car crash, and the validity of the license. Employers, insurance companies, and government agencies can apply for records as well. According to the South Dakota legislation, the last three years of driving records are accessible to the public while the record holder can obtain the complete document. Each request costs $5 for individuals, while government and state agencies are not required to pay the fee. Interested persons may fill the request form for a three-year record or request form for a complete record to query the department. Completed forms should be sent to:

Driver Licensing Program

118 West Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Can Traffic Violation and Infractions be Expunged or Sealed In South Dakota?

In South Dakota, expungement is quite different from sealing a record. A sealed record is only accessible to law enforcement agencies. Also, a court may grant individuals access to a sealed record. However, an expunged record is completely erased, removed, or destroyed. As such, individuals whose records have been expunged are allowed by law to deny the offense at any time. Typically, expungement or sealing a record depends on age, the time of the offense, the severity of the crime, and accumulated/habitual convictions. Drunk driving and speeding offenses of persons below 18 years or above 75 years old may be expunged provided it is the first offense, and no jail sentence was involved. Also, records are sealed or restricted ten years from the day the jail and probation sentence has been completed. Convictions under Class A, B, and C felony can not be expunged in South Dakota.

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