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Motorcycle License in South Dakota

As you fly down South Dakota's historic roads, you can begin to imagine how some of America's first explorers felt. The frontier landscapes rise to meet you and your trusty motorcycle-of-a-steed, and for a moment, you're totally immersed in a natural world, unlike any other place in the nation.

Sound enticing? Well, keep reading to find out how you can get your South Dakota motorcycle license.

New to South Dakota?

If you just moved to South Dakota and would like to transfer your out-of-state motorcycle credentials, visit your local Department of Public Safety (DPS) driver licensing office and:

  • Surrender your out-of-state license.
  • Present proof of your:
    • Identity, birthday, and lawful presence in the United States.
    • Social Security number (SSN).
    • South Dakota residency.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Pass the required testing IF your out-of-state credentials are expired.
  • Pay the $28 licensing fee.

The DPS will then issue your South Dakota motorcycle license, which is valid for 5 years OR until the documents proving your legal presence in the U.S. expire (whichever happens first).

Types of SD Motorcycle Credentials

Depending on your age, the type of South Dakota motorcycle credentials you're required to apply for may differ. The different kinds of credentials and their respective requirements are as follows:

  • Motorcycle instruction permit.
    • Allows you to practice riding a motorcycle within certain restrictions and under the supervision of a licensed adult.
  • Motorcycle restricted minor's permit.
    • Allows you to practice riding within certain restrictions with your parent or legal guardian's permission.
  • Motorcycle operator's license.
    • Allows you to ride a motorcycle in South Dakota without restrictions.

For details on age requirements, eligibility, and processes, continue reading.

SD Motorcycle License Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for a motorcycle license in South Dakota, you must first meet the following minimum age requirements for each type of motorcycle credential:

  • Motorcycle instruction permit: 14 years old.
  • Motorcycle restricted minor's permit: 14 years old.
  • Motorcycle operator's license: 16 years old.
    • Note that any applicant under 18 years old MUST first obtain one of the above permits before applying for a full license.

Then, to be eligible for a full SD motorcycle license, you'll need to do the following:

  • EITHER:
    • Pass the SD Department of Public Safety's written and on-road motorcycle exams.*
      OR
    • Complete a motorcycle education course approved by the DPS.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Pay the required licensing fees.

* NOTE: Contact your local DPS office for information on taking your written and road skills tests.

Motorcycle Permits in South Dakota

If you're under 18 years old, the first step to getting your SD motorcycle license is earning a motorcycle instruction permit OR a motorcycle restricted minor's permit. Visit your local DPS driver licensing office with your parent or legal guardian and:

  • Take a vision test.
    • Pass the written knowledge tests for your:
    • Standard driver's license (if you do not already have a permit or license).
    • Motorcycle license.
  • Pass the DPS' on-road motorcycle skills exam if you're applying for a motorcycle restricted minor's permit.
    • If you're just applying for a motorcycle instruction permit, you don't yet have to take the motorcycle road exam. This step will come later.
  • Present proof of your:
  • Pay the applicable motorcycle permit fees.

The SD Department of Public Safety will then issue you your motorcycle permit!

Permit Requirements & Restrictions

Requirements and restrictions for your South Dakota motorcycle permit differ based on what type of permit you've received.

Regardless of your specific permit type, once you turn 16 years old you can return to any DPS driver licensing office and trade your permit for an official SD motorcycle license for free.

Motorcycle Instruction Permits

If you receive a SD motorcycle instruction permit, it'll be valid for 1 year, and before applying for a standard motorcycle operator's license you must hold your permit for a minimum of:

  • 180 days if you choose not to enroll in any type of Driver's Ed.
  • 90 days if you complete a driver education course approved by the South Dakota Department of Education (DOE).
  • 30 days if you complete BOTH a DOE-approved Driver's Ed course AND a motorcycle safety education course approved by the DPS.

You'll also need to adhere to the following:

  • You are prohibited from transporting passengers.
  • You must always be accompanied by someone on another motorcycle who's at least 18 years old, holds a valid motorcycle license and has at least 1 year of driving experience..
  • You may only ride between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Restricted Minor's Permits

If you received a South Dakota motorcycle restricted minor's permit, it will be valid for 5 years. You can hold this type of permit until you turn 18 years old, at which time you can transfer to a regular motorcycle operator's license.

With a motorcycle restricted minor's permit you:

  • May ride as long as you have your parent or legal guardian's permission.
  • Can only ride your motorcycle between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Getting Your SD Motorcycle License

Before applying for your motorcycle license, you'll need to have done either of the following:

Call the Department of Public Safety at (605) 773-6883 for details on driver testing times and locations.

Once you're ready, visit your local DPS driver licensing office and:

  • Submit proof of your:
    • Social Security number.
    • Date of birth, lawful presence in the U.S., and identity.
    • SD residency.
  • Take a vision screening.
  • Submit your motorcycle permit, if applicable.
  • Present EITHER:
    • Proof of passing the written and road tests for your motorcycle license.
      OR
    • A certificate of completion from a motorcycle safety course.
  • Pay the $28 motorcycle licensing fee (if applicable).

The DPS will then issue you your South Dakota motorcycle operator's license! Your license will expire 5 years from issuance OR when the document proving your legal presence expires (whichever occurs first).

South Dakota Motorcycle Education

As a new motorcycle rider, strongly consider enrolling in a South Dakota motorcycle education course. Doing so can speed along the motorcycle license application process by:

  • Shortening the amount of time you're required to hold a motorcycle instruction permit.
  • Waiving the Department of Public Safety's written and road motorcycle exams.
    • This is at your jurisdiction's discretion. Check with your local licensing office for your specific options.

Additionally, taking a Basic Rider Course will teach you invaluable skills like:

  • Finding the safest route for riding.
  • Sharing the road with other drivers.
  • Dealing with emergencies.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the best safety practices.

For more on motorcycle education in South Dakota, take a look at the South Dakota Safety Council's motorcycle safety programs. When you're ready to enroll in a class, you can use the online registration tool provided by the SDSC.

Motorcycle License Fees in South Dakota

The fees associated with getting your South Dakota motorcycle license are as follows:

  • Motorcycle license: $28.
  • Motorcycle instruction permit:
    • If you already hold a standard driver's license: $15.
    • If you DO NOT hold a driver's license: $28
  • Conversion of a permit to a license: free.

For more information about motorcycle licensing fees in SD, please contact your local Department of Public Safety driver licensing office branch.

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