Passenger limits, longer instruction permits for teen drivers starts July 1

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After a year delay, more regulations are coming for teen drivers in South Dakota. 

The new rules and requirements come from a law passed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Kristi Noem in 2020. Last year, Noem suspended implementation of the law until 2021. 

Jane Schrank, the director of the Driving License Program, said there are three main changes starting July 1. 

  • The instruction permit period will be longer for new drivers. (180 days with driver’s education classes or 275 days without driver’s education classes). 
  • The instruction permit now requires 50 hours of parent/guardian supervised driving (10 hours at night and 10 hours in inclement weather) to upgrade to a restricted permit.
  • Drivers with restricted permits can’t have any passengers outside immediate family or household for the first six months. After six months, only one passenger outside of the family.

Schrank also added anyone under 18 will be required to have a restricted permit before moving on to operator license. 

“Change is coming,” Schrank told KELOLAND News. “We know it is difficult for some people. I think in the long run, it’ll provide more safety for our teens.” 

Penalties for teen drivers will also become harsher for any teen drivers with multiple violations of traffic laws or permit violations. The first penalty for drivers on a permit is a suspended license for 30 days. If there is a second offense, there’s a 180-day suspension. 

You can review all the changes on the The South Dakota Department of Public Safety Driver Licensing Program website. Appointments are still required to visit South Dakota Driver Exam Stations. 

Getting teen drivers more experience 

A 2020 KELOLAND.com Original story on 2019 fatal crashes showed “crash fatalities are expected to reach an historic low, but rural roads remain a dangerous place for vehicles.” In 2019, 14 teens (age 14 to 18) were killed in crashes. 

Schrank said the 2020 law was brought forward by “associations and insurance companies” with the intent to “improve teen driver safety.” You can see the eight-page 2020 law below.

“Help them get more experience behind the wheel before they are driving by themselves,” she said. 

2010 study for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded that states with strong laws restricting passengers for teen drivers as well as restricting nighttime driving and delaying the age for permits and licenses have fewer teen crashes.

Throughout the past few months, Schrank said officials have sent mail to homes with teen drivers alerting them about the law change as well as news releases and a social media campaign. 

You can also contact the state Driver Licensing Program via email at dpsdl@state.sd.us or by calling (605) 773-6883.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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