South Dakota requires all riders of motorcycles to obtain a license before riding their motorcycles on South Dakota’s public roads and streets. The procedure of applying for a motorcycle license varies depending on your age and place of residence.

New to the State

If you are new to South Dakota and you plan to obtain a motorcycle license, you will need to first take and pass certain tests. You will need to visit the nearest examination station to take the tests. Be sure to take with you your old motorcycle license from another state (if there is any) and documents proving your identity. The examiner will assess your situation and see if your previous state’s motorcycle licensing requirements meet the standards of South Dakota. If you pass this stage, you will be required to pass the vision test. If you pass the test, you will be issued with a South Dakota motorcycle license, which is valid for 5 years.

Residents Over 18

If you are at least 18 years old, you will need to visit the nearest examination center to obtain a motorcycle license. Be sure to take your South Dakota driver’s license with you. If you don’t have any type of license, you will be required to take with you a certified or original copy of your birth certificate. You will also be required to submit your social security number. You will be required to take and pass the following tests:

  • Vision: If your vision is impaired, you will need to obtain correct glasses to wear them when taking various tests. Your healthcare practitioner will need to fill out a vision statement verifying that you can see well while riding a motorcycle.
  • Knowledge: This test is designed to evaluate your driving ability, rules, techniques and procedures. To pass this test, you have to go through the Motorcycle Manual.
  • Driving: Driving test is meant to evaluate your motorcycle riding ability under certain critical situations.

If you pass all the tests, you will be issued with a South Dakota motorcycle license which is valid for 5 years. You have to pay all the applicable fees to obtain this license.

Residents Under 18

If you are younger than 18 years old but at least 14 years old, you will need to undergo a different process to obtain a motorcycle license. First, you have to obtain a motorcycle instruction permit before upgrading it to a regular South Dakota motorcycle operator license. To get this permit, you must undergo all the steps outlined in the previous section, except taking the motorcycle driving test. Also, you will be required to be accompanied by your parent or guardian to sign your application form. Obtaining a motorcycle instruction permit allows you to practice riding a motorcycle to improve your riding skills. An instruction permit is valid for 18 days. If you successfully complete the state-approved driver education course, you will be required to stay with the permit for 90 days. If you complete a national motorcycle course, the period of staying with a permit can reduce to 30 days. South Dakota motorcycle instruction permit comes with some restrictions. You will be required to only drive a motorcycle between 6 am to 8 pm. During this time, carrying of passengers will not be allowed. Also, you will need to be accompanied and supervised by a licensed motorcycle rider who is over 18 years old.

Restricted Minor’s Permit

If you are younger than 18 years old and you pass the driving test, you will be issued with a restricted minor’s permit. This permit enables you to ride a motorcycle with fewer restrictions. You won’t need to be supervised in order to ride a motorcycle. You only need to ask permission from your parent to ride your motorcycle.

The permit is valid for 5 years

The instruction permit is valid for 5 years. However, if you turn 16 years old and it is proved that you haven’t accumulated any ticket or violated any traffic rules, you can apply for a regular driver’s license. For more information on the South Dakota motorcycle license, contact the Driver Licensing Program customer representative at (800) 952-3696.