Fight Traffic Ticket in South DakotaPage Overview
South Dakota allows drivers to plead guilty or no contest and pay their traffic ticket fines, or plead guilty and fight their charges in court.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine, possibly without going to court.
- Possibly accumulate driving record points.
- Risk suspended license or revocation.
- Face increased auto insurance rates.
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
Fighting your SD traffic ticket means:
- Going to court on the date on your citation.
- Entering a not guilty plea.
- Receiving 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 won’t have to pay the ticket fine or face any penalties.
However, if the judge finds you guilty, you must handle all applicable ticket fines and 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 citations for minor infractions.
Refer to Paying Your Traffic Ticket for more information about this option.
Avoid Additional Charges
Check your citation for a hearing or court date. This is the date you must appear in court and plead not guilty.
Failure to appear results in license suspension and an arrest warrant.
NOTE: You face the same penalties if you receive a guilty verdict and don’t pay your fine and court cost on time.
Determine Where to Plead
Magistrate Courts handle misdemeanor traffic offenses; Circuit Courts handle felonies.
The South Dakota Unified Judicial System website has court contact information.
Inform the Court
Generally, courts require drivers to appear on the hearing dates printed on their citations. During this appearance, they can enter their guilty pleas in person. The courts schedule a hearing date.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
Try to contact your court as soon as you realize you can’t make your hearing date; the more time you provide the court, the more likely you are to get a rescheduled date.
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 an especially good idea to hire an attorney if you’re facing felony charges, or any violation that can result in incarceration and loss of driving privileges.
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.
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:
- Handle your ticket fines and penalties.
- File an appeal.
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
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.
You’ll lose your driving privileges to license suspension if you accumulate too many driving record points.
Check 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.
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.Other Topics in This Section