Motorcycle License in South Dakota

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.

New to the State

To obtain your license, head to any exam station. Make sure to bring your old motorcycle license with you, along with a form of identification.

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. The license is valid for 5 years.

Residents Over 18

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 an acceptable form of identification. You'll also be asked to give your social security number.

Everyone is required to pass 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 fee. The license is valid for 5 years. (If you're not a resident of the United States, your license will expire in 5 years or when your visa ends, whichever comes first.)

Residents Under 18

If you're at least 14 years old, 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.

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 days (continuously). 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. and 8 p.m. You also have to be accompanied (on another motorcycle) by someone 18 years old or over who has had their license for at least 1 year. And, you have to ride alone on your motorcycle.

Restricted Minor's Permit

However, if you're still under 18 years old, 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 6 months.)

This permit enables you to drive with fewer restrictions than the ordinary permit. You may still drive only between 6 a.m. and 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 5 years.

Once you've turned 16 years old, if you haven't had a traffic violation within the preceding 6 months, you may convert your permit to a driver's license at the exam station.

Additional Information

For more information on the motorcycle license application process, call the Driver Licensing Program at (800) 952-3696.

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