Legal Age Issues

Legal Age to Purchase and Consume Alcohol

  • The legal age to purchase and consume alcohol in South Dakota is 21 years of age.
  • It is legal to sell alcohol to persons aged 18-20 if they are in the immediate presence of a parent, guardian or spouse who is over the age of 21. It is legal to refuse to serve anyone under the age of 21.
  • It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under 18 years of age, even if accompanied by a parent guardian or spouse who is 21 years of age or older.
  • It is illegal for a person less than 21 years old to loiter on the licensed premises of an on-sale alcohol licensee. (SDCL 35-4-79)

Penalties and Fines for Selling or Serving Underage People

There are three sets of penalties: those for the licensee, for the clerk and for those who furnish alcohol to underage individuals. (SDCL 35-9-1 & 35-9-1.1)

  • Licensee
    • A licensee who sells or serves alcohol to an underage person faces a Class 1 misdemeanor if the customer is under the age of 18. This violation is subject to a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.
    • For selling or serving alcohol to an individual between 18-21 years of age, the licensee faces a Class 2 misdemeanor unless the purchase is done in the immediate presence of a parent, guardian or spouse who is 21 years of age or older. This violation is subject to a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $200.
    • SDCL 35-2-10.1 allows the South Dakota Department of Revenue to impose civil penalties on a business who has a clerk who sells alcohol to a minor.
      • $500.00 fine for the first violation, if the clerk has participated in a training program that is approved by the department. If the clerk has not gone through training, the fine is $1000.00.
      • $1000.00 fine for the second violation in a 24 month period of time if the clerk has participated in a training program that is approved by the department. If the clerk has not gone through training, the fine is $2000.00.
      • For a third violation in 24 months, the business will have their alcohol license suspended.
      • If the licensee sells or serves alcohol to a minor, the alcohol license will be revoked.
  • Clerk
    • A clerk who sells or serves alcohol to an underage person faces a Class 1 misdemeanor if the customer is under the age of 18.
    • For selling or serving alcohol to an individual between 18-21 years of age, the clerk faces a Class 2 misdemeanor.
    • In addition, for a first offense, a clerk will have their driver's license revoked for a minimum of 30 days or up to a maximum of one year. The second offense and subsequent offenses, the driver's license will be revoked for a minimum of 60 days or up to a maximum of one year.
  • Others Who Furnish Alcohol to Underage Persons
    • Any person 21 years of age or older purchasing or otherwise acquiring alcoholic beverages from a retail establishment and giving or reselling the alcoholic beverages to any person under the age of 21 is subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Suspension of Alcohol Licenses

  • No matter how many alcohol licenses that a licensee may own on a premise, when one license is suspended, all licenses are suspended.
  • If a alcohol license is suspended, then the video lottery license is also suspended.

Purchasing, Consuming Alcohol by a Minor

According to SDCL 35-9-2, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor for any person under the age of twenty-one to purchase, attempt to purchase, possess or consume alcoholic beverages. It is also a Class 2 misdemeanor for anyone under the age of 21 to misrepresent their age with use of any document for the purpose of purchasing or attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages from any business licensed to sell alcohol beverages.

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