Motorcycle License in South Dakota
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South Dakota requires anyone who drives a motorcycle on its streets and highways to have a motorcycle license. The path to obtain your license depends upon your age, and whether you're new to the state. Just find the section that applies to you, and follow along.
If you are a motorcyclist who has lived in South Dakota for more than 90 days, you'll need to get your state license. (If you don't have a motorcycle license from your last state, you'll need to follow the procedure described in the next section. If you're also under 18, then you'll need to follow the last section.)
The examiner will see if your previous state's licensing requirements meet South Dakota's standards.
If they do, you'll then be asked to pass a vision test.
If you pass that, you'll be granted a South Dakota motorcycle license at a cost of $8. The license is valid for five years. (If you're not a resident of the United States, your license will expire in five years or when your visa ends, whichever comes first.)
If you fall in this group, you'll need to bring your driver's license with you to the exam station. If you don't have any sort of license, you'll need to bring along a certified copy of your birth certificate, along with one other acceptable form of identification. You'll also be asked to give your social security number.
Everyone is required to pass three tests:
- Vision―If you need the aid of glasses or contact lenses to pass the test, then you'll need to wear them when driving. If you fail the test, your eye doctor will need to complete a vision statement verifying that you see well enough to drive.
- Knowledge―This test will cover driving rules, procedures, and techniques. You should study for this test by reading the Motorcycle Manual.
- Driving―This test will determine your ability to safely handle routine, everyday driving procedures.
If you pass all the tests, congratulations. You'll be given a South Dakota motorcycle license after you pay the $8 fee. The license is valid for five years. (If you're not a resident of the United States, your license will expire in five years or when your visa ends, whichever comes first.)
If you're between the ages of 14-18, you'll need to obtain a motorcycle instruction permit before you may graduate to a motorcycle operator license.
To gain your permit, you'll need to do everything described in the previous section, except for taking the driving test. Also, you'll need to have either a parent or legal guardian with you when you come to the exam station.
If you successfully complete the vision and knowledge tests and fork over $8, you'll be given an instruction permit that's valid for one year. If you allow the permit to expire, and you're still under 18 when it does, you'll need to get another permit.
Having the instruction permit allows you to practice your driving skills, which will hopefully enable you to become a safe and accomplished motorcyclist, capable of passing the driving test. You'll need to have the permit for a minimum of 180 days (continuously). However, if you successfully complete an approved state driver education course, you'll only need to have your permit for 90 continuous days. You can reduce that to 30 days if you also successfully complete a national motorcycle course.
This type of permit carries some restrictions with it. You may only drive your motorcycle between 6 a.m.-8 p.m. You also have to be accompanied (on another motorcycle) by someone 18 or over who has had their license for at least a year. And, you have to ride alone on your motorcycle.
After you've held your permit for the required amount of time, and if you're now over 16, you can try to pass the driving test and obtain your license. (As long as you haven't received a traffic ticket in the preceding six months.)
However, if you're still under 16, you'll need to pass the driving test... but you'll only be given a restricted minor's permit if you do. (You will not be eligible to apply for this permit if you have had a traffic violation within the preceding six months.) If you do pass the test, getting the restricted permit will cost you $8.
This permit enables you to drive with fewer restrictions than the ordinary permit. You may still drive only between 6 a.m.-8 p.m., but you don't need any supervision. However, you must have permission of your parent or legal guardian to drive your motorcycle.
The permit is valid for five years. (If you're not a resident of the United States, your license will expire in five years or when your visa ends, whichever comes first.)
Once you've turned 16, if you haven't had a traffic violation within the preceding six months, you may convert your permit to a driver's license at the exam station.
If you fail any of the tests, you must wait until the next day to try again. You can fail up to three times within a six-month period. After that, you'll have to fill out another application.
The driving test costs $8.
Some exam stations require you to make an appointment for testing. Driving exams are not performed between 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and also within one hour of closing.
Also, you'll need to bring your own motorcycle with you for the test.
For more information on the motorcycle license application process, call the Driver Licensing Program at (605) 773-3541, or send an e-mail to:
For information on safety education classes, visit the South Dakota Safety Council website, or call (800) 952-5539.
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