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Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Motorcycle Driving Laws


  • Every motorcycle must be equipped with at least one but no more than two headlamps.
  • The handlebars of a motorcycle must be no higher than the shoulder height of the person operating the motorcycle.
  • All persons under the age of 18 must wear motorcycle safety helmets that are approved by the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
  • A person riding in an enclosed cab attached to a motorcycle does not have to wear a safety helmet.
  • A motorcycle operator must wear an eye protective device unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen of sufficient height and design that protects the motorcycle operator. When headlights are required to be on, a motorcycle operator cannot wear protective eye devices that are tinted or shaded to reduce the light transmission of the device below 35 percent.
  • Motorcycles must have at least one tail lamp, which when lighted emits a red light visible for a distance of 500 feet.

Noise Limits:

Every motorcycle must at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.


Source: AAA Motor Law Digest, 68th (2002) Edition.


Anyone who operates a motor vehicle or motor-driven cycle on public roadways in South Dakota is required to have a driver license. You are required to have a South Dakota driver license if you live here for more than 90 days. If you are a commercial driver license holder, you must apply for a South Dakota license within 30 days. The following people can drive on a valid license from their home state, so long as they are at least 16 years old. South Dakota law (SDCL 32-12-39) states that every licensee shall have their Drivers License in their immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle.

Military - Members of the Armed Forces on active duty or members of foreign military on temporary duty with the Armed Forces, as well as their spouse and children.

Student - Students who are here to further their education and who are considered a non-resident for tuition purposes.

Motorcycle License - To obtain a Motorcycle License, you must be at least 16 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge (car/truck and motorcycle), and motorcycle driving test. If a minor is at least 16 years of age, but under 18 years of age, they must complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months prior to obtaining the Motorcycle License. The license is valid for 5 years, for a cost of $8.00 for car/truck test plus $8.00 for motorcycle test.

For complete licensing information and access to online driving manuals, visit the Driver Licensing Program's website.


Source: South Dakota Department of Public Safety.


For more detailed information on motorcycle rules and regulations see the South Dakota Codified Laws (Chapter 32-20).

South Dakota Rides

Launched in April 2012, is part of a campaign by the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety to promote motorcycle education and safety. The site provides information about safety, state laws, rider training opportunities and other topics.