A Complete Guide to the South Dakota Seatbelt Law
The primary motivation for wearing a seatbelt is keeping yourself safe in case of a car crash. There is also a secondary motivator—avoiding hefty fines for breaking the seatbelt law.
Whether you are a regular on the South Dakota roads or only passing through, you need to respect the State’s regulations. Our simple guide will reveal the essentials of South Dakota seatbelt laws—such as:
- What the rules are
- How much the ticket costs
- What happens with your driving record and insurance rate if you get a ticket
- How you can fight the fine if you get it
In South Dakota, you must have a properly fastened seatbelt if you are a driver or front seat occupant. Drivers are required to make sure that every front seat passenger older than five years of age and younger than 18 has a seatbelt on. If not, the driver will be ticketed for underage passengers who aren’t bucked up.
South Dakota seatbelt usage rate is 88%, which is far behind the national rates that go up to 91%. States with primary enforcement have a much higher percentage compared to the ones where it is a secondary law—the group where South Dakota belongs to. In this state, the police officer can’t pull you over to issue you a citation for not wearing a seatbelt unless you’ve made another traffic violation—such as speeding.
When it comes to seatbelt laws for children in South Dakota, this is what you must know:
- All occupants who are 17 years of age or under must wear a seatbelt
- Children under five years of age who weigh less than 40 pounds must use an approved child safety seat
- Not restraining children according to the law is a primary offense—the officer can stop the driver without any other violation
- Children who are 12 years old or younger should ride in the back seat
Best practice recommendations for safety seats are as follows:
|Under one||Rear-facing car seat|
|1–3||Rear-facing car seat or—when a child outgrows it—forward-facing car seat with a harness|
|4–7||Forward-facing car seat or booster seat when the child is big enough|
|8–12||Booster seat or regular seatbelt—when a child reaches around four feet and nine inches|
There are certain exceptions in South Dakota seatbelt law allowing vehicle drivers or occupants not to wear the safety belt—including:
- Having a written doctor’s statement that you can’t wear a seatbelt due to a medical condition
- Owning a vehicle manufactured before September 1973
- Driving a vehicle that isn’t equipped with seatbelts because the law didn’t require them at the time it was manufactured
- Being a United States Postal Service rural mail carrier—or any other person who delivers newspapers—engaged at the time on a delivery route
What is more relevant are the consequences of not buckling up. The odds of getting fatal or more serious injuries are higher when you don’t wear a safety belt during a crash.
The non-moving violations such as a seatbelt ticket aren’t reported to the Department of Licensing (DOL). What this means is:
- You won’t get demerit points
- The offense won’t taint your driving record
- The insurance rate won’t increase
- You won’t need to go to court
The rules are different if you disobey the child seatbelt law as that is considered a primary offense. In this case, you can get two demerit points, and it will show on your record.
When you get a seatbelt ticket, your options are:
- Pay the fine
- Ignore the ticket
- Fight the ticket
If you are 100% guilty, you should pay your dues and move on. Deciding to ignore it can only result in additional fees.
In case you believe you were unjustly ticketed, you should get your ticket dismissed. Why give your money away if you have a plausible reason for fighting the ticket—such as you unbuckled because you were driving in reverse.
If the thought of hiring a lawyer and going to court is preventing you from starting the process, there is a solution—use the DoNotPay app.
Our AI-powered app can craft formal and convincing appeal letters for seatbelt tickets. You’ll need to answer a few basic questions about your violation, and we’ll build your case around it.
Once we draft the letter, we’ll even send it to the authorities, so you don’t have to deal with that.
Want to experience DoNotPay's speed and effectiveness? Follow these steps:
- Open a DoNotPay account and log in
- Locate the Seatbelt Ticket feature
- Upload a photo of your ticket
- Fill out the questionnaire
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