How To Get A Motorcycle License In South Dakota

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If you are planning to ride a motorcycle in South Dakota then securing a motorcycle license should be the first step you should go for.

It would be a wise decision to have a proper motorcycle license before you hit the road. You are in luck if you are unsure how to get a motorcycle license in South Dakota.

The process is as simple as any other state. If you put it all together, you must gather a few documents, pass all tests, pay the required fees, and then get your license.

But every one of these steps can take time to complete, especially if you are unaware of their details.

So, if you’re ready to take the first step on your journey to motorcycle mastery, you’ve come to the right place.

I will take you through the steps required to obtain your license, from the basics of motorcycle safety to the practical skills you’ll need to ride confidently.

Motorcycle License Requirements In South Dakota

How old do I have to be to get a motorcycle license in South Dakota? Let's find out

Now that you understand the importance of having a license at all times, it’s time to dive into the specific requirements you’ll need to meet.

While learning how to get one is relatively straightforward, there are a few requirements you’ll need to fulfill.

Knowing Your Age

Before diving into the specific requirements the state sets, it’s important to know your age. While age may be a number, it can make a big difference in motorcycle licensing.

Age Under 18

If you’re under 18, you’re in luck – South Dakota allows minors as young as 16 to obtain a motorcycle license.

However, you must bring your driver’s license or proof of identity and residence in the state to get started.

This ensures that you meet the state’s residency requirements and are legally allowed to operate a motorcycle on its roads.

For minors, there is another huge advantage. They can get an instruction permit as early as when they are 14 years old.

They will be issued one that should be held for 180 days or 90 on completing a driver’s education course. After this period, they can get a Motorcycle Restricted Minor’s Permit.

Age 18 Above

Congratulations, you’re officially an adult and ready to hit the road on two wheels!

If you’re 18 years old or above, you’ll be happy to know that acquiring a motorcycle license in the state is straightforward.

Like those under 18, you’ll need to bring your driver’s license or proof that you are a state resident to start.

Types Of Motorcycle Licenses

If you want to be a part of the two-wheeled community in South Dakota, there is not a lot of thinking you need to do.

There is a single type of motorcycle license covering everything excluding mopeds, so you don’t need to worry about choosing between different classes.

This is indeed pretty different than other states. In the case of a moped, no motorcycle license is required. The only thing that is needed is a driver’s license, and you are good to go.

How To Apply For Your South Dakota Motorcycle License

Now that all requirements are clear, the only thing left to do is learn how to get one. This section will list all the steps required to learn how to finally obtain one in the state. Let’s take a look!

Step 1. Get A Driver’s License

While having a driver’s license to get your motorcycle license is not mandatory, it’s an easy and convenient way to prove your identity and residency in the state. If you already have a valid driver’s license, you can show it to start the process.

If you don’t have one, you need to show the officials a few documents that establish that you are a state of South Dakota resident. This includes your identity card and more.

Step 2. Testing For Your Motorcycle License

When getting a permit, the first thing needed is passing a few tests. The first is the vision test, which is not to worry about.

If you can see clearly, you will pass that one. Let’s look at what can be expected with the other tests conducted by the state.

1. Motorcycle Written Test

South Dakota requires you to take a written test that covers everything from basic rules of the road to safe driving practices specific to motorcycles. The test comprises 25 questions; you’ll need to score at least 80% to pass.

Don’t worry, with a bit of studying and practice, passing the test will be a breeze. And once you do, you’ll be one step closer to getting your license.

2. Motorcycle Road Test

After passing the written test, it’s time to demonstrate your ability to ride. During the road test, you’ll be assessed on your ability to handle your motorcycle and making critical decisions.

Don’t worry, you won’t be asked to do anything illegal or beyond your skill level. Just show the examiner what you’re made of, and you’ll be well on getting your license.

Step 3. Collecting Your Paperwork

Before you start the license application process, perhaps the most important thing to do is collect all necessary paperwork.

  • If you do not have a driver’s license, you must bring proof of identification and residence in South Dakota.
  • You also need to bring a complete application form that has been filled in either English or Spanish.
  • The respective versions can be found on the state’s website.

Step 4. Wait For Your License

After completing the written and road tests, you’re almost there! However, it’s important to remember that your license won’t be issued immediately.

Typically, it takes a few weeks for your license to be processed and mailed to you. But don’t worry, you’ll still be able to ride in the meantime, so long as you follow the guidelines outlined on your permit.

Ways To Get A Motorcycle Endorsement In SD

What if you want to get an endorsement on your license and not a separate one? The state of South Dakota makes that possible too. Let’s see how this can be done!

Step 1: Provision Of Documents

In the case of a motorcycle license, a driver’s license was optional because there were other ways of verifying the applicant’s identity.

In the case of an endorsement, you cannot get one if you don’t have a valid driver’s license. As the endorsement will be added to it, it is mandatory to have one.

Step 2: Pass Required Tests

You need to pass the same tests as the ones that license applicants to have to do. There is the knowledge test, the vision test, and the skills test.

The first two are easy, but the third one, as is evident by the name, requires you to demonstrate your skills. So, you need to be prepared for it.

Step 3: Take A Safety Course

A safety course is optional but can certainly be beneficial. It also allows people to gain knowledgeable insights into the world of motorcycles.

And for applicants under 18, the time for holding an instruction permit is cut in half from 180 to 90 days.

Step 4: Wait For Your Driver’s License

The final thing to do is to wait. As your driver’s license will be issued once again, with the required endorsement, it will be taken from you when you pass the skills test.

It will be a few weeks until you can ride unrestricted. You should be issued a temporary license to drive your car when needed and not get into trouble with the authorities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How Long Will It Take To Get A Motorcycle License In South Dakota?

Obtaining a motorcycle license in South Dakota typically takes a few weeks. It includes a written test, a road test, and a waiting period for the actual license to arrive.

However, the duration may vary depending on individual circumstances, such as how much time you dedicate to preparing for the tests and the availability of testing slots.

Your age matters too, especially if you are a minor. Nonetheless, if you’re determined to get your license, the wait will be worth it!

Q2: How Much Will It Cost To Get A Motorcycle License In South Dakota?

If you already have a driver’s license, you can obtain an instruction permit for just $15. However, if you do not have a driver’s license, the fee for the instruction permit increases to $28.

Once you have completed the written and road tests and met all the requirements, the fee for the actual motorcycle license is also $28.

This is pretty cheap. You are also saving a lot due to motorcycle courses not being compulsory.

Q3: Should I Have A License To Ride A Motorcycle In South Dakota?

Yes, you must have a motorcycle license to ride a motorcycle legally in the state. Riding a motorcycle without one is not only against the law but also dangerous.

A license ensures you have the necessary skills and knowledge to ride safely and responsibly on the road. Even if you don’t get caught today, you will be in the future.

Why risk heavy fines and even jail time when all you need to do is dedicate a few days to get your license?

You may also be interested in my article: South Dakota Motorcycle Helmet Laws


Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the road, and now you hold the key to unlocking the freedom of the open road on a motorcycle.

Knowing how to get a motorcycle license in South Dakota is no small feat, but you can do it with the right preparation and dedication! Remember, your journey doesn’t end here.

The road ahead is long, and there’s always something new to discover, learn, and experience on a motorcycle.

But as long as you ride with care, caution, and respect for yourself and others on the road, there’s no limit to the adventures that await you.

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