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  • Fight Traffic Ticket in South Dakota

    SUMMARY: How to Fight a South Dakota Traffic Ticket

    If you decide to fight your traffic violation, you'll need to appear in court to submit a “not guilty" plea and request a trial.

    Refer to your SD traffic ticket for specific instructions. Or, you can contact the circuit or magistrate court listed on your ticket.

    Fighting Your SD Traffic Ticket

    In South Dakota, you can either:

    Pay Ticket
    (Plead Guilty or No Contest)

    Learn more about
    paying your traffic ticket »

    Fight Ticket
    (Plead Not Guilty)

    • Enter a not guilty plea and receive a court date.
    • Possibly hire a traffic ticket attorney to help you prepare and present your case.
    • Gain no penalties if found not guilty.
    • Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).

    Learn more below.

    What It Means to Fight Your SD Traffic Ticket

    Fighting your South Dakota traffic ticket means:

    • Going to court on the date on your traffic citation to enter a "not guilty" plea and schedule a hearing date.
    • Preparing for your hearing. Some drivers hire traffic ticket lawyers.
    • Presenting your case before the judge.
    • Receiving a verdict.

    If the judge finds you " not guilty," you will not have to pay the traffic ticket fine or face any penalties.

    However, if the judge finds you " guilty," you must pay all applicable ticket fines and suffer the penalties.

    Pleading Guilty or No Contest

    Some drivers feel pleading " guilty" or "no contest," paying their fines, and dealing with the penalties is easier than going to court―especially if they received traffic citations for minor infractions.

    Refer to Paying Your Traffic Ticket in South Dakota for more information about this option.

    Avoid Additional Charges

    Check your SD traffic ticket for a hearing or court date. This is the date you must appear in court and plead " not guilty."

    Failure to appear results in a driver's license suspension and an arrest warrant.

    NOTE: You face the same penalties if you receive a "guilty" verdict, and don't pay your ticket fine and court costs on time.

    Notify the South Dakota Traffic Court

    Determine Where to Plead

    In South Dakota, magistrate courts handle misdemeanor traffic offenses and circuit courts handle felonies.

    Visit the South Dakota Unified Judicial System website for your court's contact information.

    Inform the Court

    Generally, traffic courts require you to appear on your hearing date. Check your SD traffic ticket for this information. During your appearance, you can enter a "not guilty" plea in person. The courts schedule a hearing date.

    Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing

    Try to contact your court as soon as you realize you cannot make your hearing date. The more time you provide the court, the more likely you are to get a rescheduled date.

    Hire a SD Traffic Ticket Attorney

    A traffic ticket attorney will help you:

    • Prepare and present your case.
    • Examine and cross examine witnesses and the prosecution.
    • Submit evidence.
    • Negotiate a plea agreement.
    • Reschedule or postpone your hearing.
    • File an appeal if you're found guilty.

    NOTE: It's a very good idea to hire a traffic ticket lawyer if you're facing felony charges, or violations that could result in incarceration or a suspended driver's license.

    Prepare Your Case

    As you, and possibly your attorney, prepare your traffic ticket case, remember to:

    • Practice your testimony. Even if you don't want to speak in court, your attorney needs to understand your side of the story.
    • Gather evidence.
    • Subpoena witnesses.

    NOTE: South Dakota doesn't allow traffic school for ticket dismissal, but judges sometimes allow plea agreements. Drivers with multiple charges or especially serious offenses might discuss such an option with their lawyers before the hearing.

    Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury

    SD traffic ticket hearings are fairly standard. Expect the judge to:

    • Listen to both sides' opening statements.
    • Allow time for testimony, witnesses, and evidence.
    • Listen to both sides' closing arguments.

    The judge will then hand down a verdict. You can do one of two things if your judge finds you guilty:

    NOTE: Most magistrates offer extensions to drivers who can't pay their fines and court costs the same day of the hearing.

    Filing an Appeal in South Dakota

    The magistrate or a clerk of court will explain how to file an appeal, including the required paperwork, fees, and time limit.

    Your traffic ticket attorney can handle this for you, as well.

    Check Your SD Driving Record

    You'll lose your driving privileges if you accumulate too many driving record points. You may want to consider checking your driving record after a:

    • "Guilty" verdict to make sure only the applicable points appear.
    • "Not guilty" verdict to make sure no points appear.

    Learn more at SD Driving Records.

    Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates

    Periodically comparing auto insurance rates is always a good idea. You want to keep getting the best coverage for the best price, right?

    However, shopping for lower rates after a "guilty" verdict is crucial to maintaining affordable coverage. Most auto insurance providers hike up rates for traffic violations, but you can avoid extra costs if you find a more affordable policy before it's time to renew your current one.

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