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Youth Driving Restrictions Enacted After Year Delay by Governor

In other news of law enforcement judgment calls, Sioux Falls cops don’t plan to break too much of a sweat enforcing the newly implemented but year-delayed restrictions on young drivers.

In 2020, the Legislature barely passed Senate Bill 113, which toughens the standards for teenagers driving on learner’s permits. Teens have to wait longer (i.e., practice more) to upgrade from learner’s permit to regular driver’s license. They have to put in at least 50 hours of driving time with Mom, Dad, or some other daring and licensed adult driver, including 10 hours at night and 10 hours in bad weather. And learner’s permitees can’t pile their pals in Pop’s Pontiac and cruise Main; they can only chauffeur kin for their first six months, then carry only one non-relative in the car.

The law was supposed to take effect last year, but a week before enactment, Governor Noem decided that the coronavirus restrictions that put driver licensing stations on appointment-only status made it too hard for the state to contact all those learning drivers and explain all the new rules. Even though that’s hogwash, the Governor invoked her emergency powers and suspended enactment of that law for a whole year.

But the driver license offices are back to regular hours, so now SB 113 is law. But it’s not a big enough law for Sioux Falls police to treat it as a primary offense:

“Is this something that’s going to be high on our enforcement action list? We will not be driving around looking for who’s in cars asking if they’re friends, household members, you kind of get my point, but I think this is something that if you’re out causing a problem with your car as a young person these are the laws that kind of establish that,” Lt. Jon Thum with Sioux Falls Police said [Kelli Volk, “Changes to Teen Driving Restrictions Start Today in SD,” KELO-TV, 2021.07.01].

So just like with medical marijuana: don’t drive like a crazy person, and you won’t have any trouble with the heat.


  1. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-01

    Well…Defenseless Teenagers are an easy target for Republican blow hards. Noem knows the law is unpopular with farm families whose kids have been driving since they were old enough to hold on to the driving wheel.Frankly, its a “Sioux Falls Law” supported by the usual female legislators from Sioux Falls, with Republican suburban values.

  2. Richard Schriever 2021-07-01

    Yeah, I started driving the tractors at 9 and the pickup at 11. On private property mind you – no roads. Well, I guess I did drive sort of half on the road when mowing ditches. By the time i got my “learners'” permit at 14 – Most of my driving was to and from school – with the neighborhood as passengers, or chauffeuring the family home from the lake on Sunday night, while they all slept. old highway 77 between Brookings and Sioux falls was quite the challenge with the weekend traffic and those concrete curbs all the way.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-01

    Arlo, check that comment about the “usual female legislators from Sioux Falls. The prime sponsor was indeed Senator Deb Soholt (R-14/Sioux Falls), but none of the seven co-sponsors were Sioux Falls women:

    1. Sen. Blake Curd (R-12/Sioux Falls)
    2. Sen. Bob Ewing (R-30/Spearfish)
    3. Sen. Art Rusch (R-17/Vermillion)
    4. Rep. Roger Chase (R-22/Huron)
    5. Rep. Mary Duvall (R-24/Pierre)
    6. Rep. Doug Barthel (R-10/Sioux Falls)
    7. Rep. Steven McCleerey (D-1/Sisseton)

    Sen. Maggie Sutton (R-10/Sioux Falls) voted against SB 113. Sen. Kris Langer (R-25/Dell Rapids) put down her beer long enough to vote against it.

    Sioux Falls-area female Reps. Milstead, Healy, Sue Peterson, and Sullivan voted aye, but so did Borglum from Rapid and Lana Greenfield from Doland and St. John from Sisseton.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-01

    Cory–sorry I generalized…I just saw it as a “Sioux Falls type law” but my bias was showing there. A similar law was put forth in the 70’s and was hooted down by the likes of Walter Dale Miller, Julian Chaney, and the rest of the farm and ranch block. It was seen as a genuine hardship for rural families.

  5. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-01

    Cory ..should add to my last comment the phrase “as I recall”. The passage of this restriction seems to indicate a loss of influence by the farm and ranch bloc within the Republican Party on certain issues.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-07-02

    Arlo, I will agree that it is a “Sioux Falls-type law.” But aren’t the majority of our new young drivers Sioux Falls-type kids—i.e., town kids rather than farm kids? Isn’t the farm/ranch bloc losing its influence within both parties simply because there are far fewer farmers and ranchers?

    And remember, this bill was signed by a female Governor who styles herself as a genuine farm girl through and through. She epitomizes South Dakota’s identity crisis: we all like to pretend we are Country™, but even though we are far from truly urban (watch us try driving on 41st Street or zipper-merging when we go to the Cities), most of us haven’t put in a day of real farm work.

    The bill requires 50 hours of adult-supervised driving. Is it really that much of a burden on parents in town or country to give that much supervised training to their children in the activity that is perhaps most likely to lead to their children dying or killing someone else? Is it really a hardship to ask that Dad stay awake while Mom dozes in the backseat while the equally tired 14-year-old chauffeurs the family back from Lake Campbell on old and evidently high-traffic 77 after a hard weekend of pontooning?

    SB 113 doesn’t stop any of that private-property training that Richard enjoyed in his youth. And I can’t imagine that keeping the kids on learner’s permits longer and not letting them take bunches of friends for a drive is going to have any significant economic impact on an ag industry dominated by aging white men whose kids have grown up and mostly moved to the city.

  7. V 2021-07-02

    I’m grateful that Drivers Education is offered to 8th graders in South Dakota. However, parents should be responsible for teaching safe driving skills and practicing with them as well. I heard it’s just like teaching them how to ride a bike and quite the bonding experience!

    In a town of 3000, I’ve had several near misses or encounters with teen drivers, especially during the pandemic when they were not in school but were out driving around and of course after school, on weekends, and during the summer months. I shop for people and now drive only roads protected by stop signs and the roads that lead to the only 2 traffic lights in town to get on the highway. Side roads are free for alls and no such thing as the right of way. Kids unsupervised in huge 4 x 4s are common and I’ve had the pleasure of driving after them in pursuit if the near miss or encounter was serious enough to warrant a discussion. Usually writing the car license # and threatening to call parents, whom I usually know, gets the proper response; an apology and promise that it won’t happen again. Teachable moments!

    We have to remember that driving is a privilege, not a right, and that teens are still developing. They are not fully mature adults with experience to handle an at risk situation. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is applicable here.

  8. V 2021-07-02

    P.S. Rural youth won’t be affected much because they already chock up dozens of hours driving farm/ranch equipment and at younger ages than town kids.

  9. Richard Schriever 2021-07-02

    Well Corey – it was from Poinsett to SF, and yes, the Interstate had not yet been constructed and there was a LOT of traffic on old 77. It was the equivalent to almost as much traffic to what is on I-29 today, trucks, buses and cars – PLUS the occasional piece of farm equipment.

    I was a hybrid city/farm kid. Lived in Sioux Falls through 7th grade – then moved to “the country”. Most of my earliest driver learning was during Summers spent on the farm before we moved there. By the time I was 14 and got a learners’ permit – I had already planted and harvested my own soybean crops and had purchased my own car. But those lake trips were with the family sedan and 7 passengers crowded on board.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-02

    Well..I did note that the last five South Dakotans to die in car wrecks were not wearing seat belts and I believe none were teenagers. Adults exercising their personal freedom I guess. And Richard…I spent 30 summers visiting my grandparents cabin at Stone Bridge. Nothing in the world smells like Lake Poinsett on a hot August day.

  11. Mark Anderson 2021-07-02

    Well Cory, Kristi identifies as a rancher girl, get that straight, or forward. When My father taught me to drive in my 63 Ford, I almost rain into a bunch of sheep, this was in Highmore, where the sheep were from who knew. He realized I needed glasses and I realized why I was failing algebra.

  12. Richard Schriever 2021-07-03

    Arlo – our place was in a new-at-the-time development on the SW side. Just about a mile walk on the beach North of the state park. No real smell down there – not so many septic systems i guess. Today’s Poinsett is replete with a centralized sewer system.

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