Alcohol Laws & Regulations
Legal Age Laws
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 21 years of age or older.
- 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.
Purchasing, Consuming by a Minor
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 any document to purchase or attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages from any business licensed to sell alcohol beverages. SDCL 35-9-2
Penalties & Fines for Selling or Serving Minors
Penalties and fines can be imposed on the licensee, the clerk, and those who furnish alcohol to underage individuals.
- 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 $2,000.
- 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 made 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 $500.
- The South Dakota Department of Revenue is required to impose civil penalties on a business who has a clerk who sells alcohol to a minor. SDCL 35-2-10.1
- $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 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.
- the business will have their alcohol license suspended after three violations in 24 months.
- If the licensee sells or serves alcohol to a minor, the alcohol license may be suspended or revoked.
- 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.
- For a first offense, a clerk may 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.
- 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.
Alcohol may be sold, served, or consumed any day between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Please Note: Municipalities and counties are permitted to have more restrictive ordinances.
Legal Age to Sell and Serve
No person under 21 years old may sell, serve, or dispense alcoholic beverages. However, a person 18 years old or older may sell or serve alcoholic beverages if:
- less than 50% of the gross business transacted by the establishment is from the sale of alcohol;
- the licensee or an employee that is at least 21 years old is on the premises when the alcohol is sold or served.
Important Note for All Licenses
*These charts show what is permitted under state law. Local ordinances may be more restrictive than the state law, so check with your local officials regarding local ordinances.
**If the establishment holds an on/off sale malt beverage license in addition to their on sale liquor license, under state law they may sell malt beverages on Memorial Day and Christmas Day. Local ordinances may be more restrictive.
Beer or alcohol coolers that have the term "malt-based" on the label.
A person must be at least 21 years of age to enter an area where there is video lottery. That includes serving alcohol in that area.
Age of Servers
Selling or serving alcoholic beverages does not include tending bar or drawing, pouring or mixing alcoholic beverages.
An individual 18 years old or older may sell or serve if:
- The business has an on-sale or off-sale license, and
- 50% or less of the gross business transacted at the establishment is from the sale of alcoholic beverages; or
- The licensee or an employee that is at least 21 years old is on the premise when the alcoholic beverage is sold or served.
An individual 21 years old or older may:
- Sell or serve alcohol; and
- Tend bar to include drawing, pouring or mixing alcoholic beverages.
Suspension of Licenses
No matter how many licenses that a licensee may own on a premise, when one license is suspended, all licenses are suspended. If an alcohol license is suspended, then the video lottery license is also suspended.