South Dakota Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both South Dakota's older drivers and roadways safe.

Updated by , Attorney

Most of the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the South Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages—and the state claims it imposes no special rules on drivers based on age alone.

Still, some of the legal controls discussed here, such as possible restrictions on a driver's license and procedures for securing disability parking plates and placards, may be especially relevant for older drivers.

License Renewal Rules in South Dakota

Time limits: All drivers must renew their licenses every five years and in person at least every ten years.

Vision test: Required at renewal. DMV personnel will conduct a test free, but may require an exam by an outside ophthalmologist or optometrist if more information is needed.

Written test: May be required at the discretion of DMV personnel.

Road test: May be required at the discretion of DMV personnel.

Possible License Restrictions

The DMV can place restrictions or conditions on a person's driver's license after administering a driving test and discussing possible restrictions with him or her.

The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

In South Dakota, other common requirements the DMV may impose on older drivers include:

  • driving a vehicle equipped with a left outside rearview mirror
  • driving a vehicle with automatic transmission
  • no nighttime driving
  • no driving outside a specified geographic area
  • driving only within a 50-mile radius of home, and
  • driving a vehicle with specified equipment.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in South Dakota

The South Dakota DMV will accept information about potentially unsafe driving from a relative, friend, police officer, court personnel, insurance company personnel, doctor, DMV personnel, or others with personal knowledge of a driver's abilities. Anonymous reports will not be accepted, however.

Those who wish to request that the DMV review driving qualifications should:

Reporting for Doctors

South Dakota encourages doctors who diagnose a patient with a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness, or any physical, neurological, or mental illness likely to impair driving to report that diagnosis to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety-Driver Licensing Program on a Medical Statement form.

South Dakota Driver Improvement Programs

Drivers can improve their skills by taking an education and training class specifically developed for older drivers. Current information about local course offerings is available from the South Dakota Safety Council.

How to Get a License Reinstated

Procedures for getting back a license that has been suspended or revoked in South Dakota differ according to specifics of each situation. For more information, see "Revoked or Suspended License Information."

How to Get Parking Placards or License Plates for a Disabled Driver

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed medical practitioner certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are available for those who:

  • cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • are severely restricted by lung disease
  • use portable oxygen
  • have a severe cardiac condition, or
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.

To obtain a disabled placard or plate:

  • complete and sign an Application for Physically Disabled Parking Permit and License Plates.
  • have a licensed physician complete Section D of the form, and
  • mail the original application to a local County Treasurer's Office.

Learn More About South Dakota Driving Rules for Seniors

The DMV website has a wealth of information for South Dakota drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements. Of special interest is the page "Helpful Facts for Aging Drivers," which includes advice on recognizing and assessing vision and cognitive impairment and conditions that may affect driving and safe driving tips for older drivers.

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