Curfews, fireworks, and sunflowers: A look at some strange laws from around South Dakota

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Every jurisdiction in the country has some weird laws on the books, and South Dakota is no exception.

These aren’t quite the same ones you’ll come across if you search ‘weird laws’ online.

Most of those laws aren’t real, including a commonly referenced one falsely stating that Spearfish has a law legalizing the killing of Native Americans who travel in a group of three or more, a claim that the Spearfish Mayor addressed in 2005.

But there’s no need to make things up, there are plenty of real weird laws.

Juvenile Curfew – Rapid City  Ordinance 9.08.100

It is unlawful for anyone under the age of 16 “to idle, wander about with no specific destination, stroll, play, congregate or otherwise be present in any public place, either on foot or in a motor vehicle,” after 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, or after 11:30.

Parental permission is not an exception to the law. Parents are allowed to send their children out for clearly defined tasks during curfew hours, but they cannot give permission for their children to freely wander at night.

The law requires police to contact the child’s parents to collect them or, if they cannot be contacted, to detain the child until their parent or guardian can be contacted. Each violation comes with a maximum fine of $100.

Rapid City isn’t the only city to have such a curfew either. Box Elder, Sioux Falls, and Yankton have similar juvenile curfews, with different curfew hours and punishments.

Fireworks to protect sunflowers – South Dakota Codified Law § 34-36-7

While it was repealed in 2018, it’s still worth mentioning South Dakota’s law that legalized using fireworks to protect crops.

The law allowed agricultural producers to “purchase and use explosives, pyrotechnics, or fireworks for the protection of sunflower crops from depredating birds.”

Rules governing this were under the authority of the Department of Public Safety, and the law itself didn’t allow the fireworks within 660 feet of any house, church, or schoolhouse without permission, as well as allowed individual counties to ban the practice if they so desired.

Eavesdropping SDCL § 22-22-1

It’s a misdemeanor to eavesdrop in South Dakota. The catch? That’s only true if you’re trespassing to do so.

SDCL § 22-22-1 states:  “No person may, except as authorized by law: (1) Trespass on property with intent to subject anyone to eavesdropping or other surveillance in a private place; or (2)Install in any private place, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy there, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events in such place, or uses any such unauthorized installation.”

So no sneaking onto someone’s property to listen to them, or to install any sort of recording device. What’s possibly more interesting, however, is that the second portion does not apply to law enforcement officers in the course of their duties. Police are free to plant recording devices on private property, providing they go through the proper legal methods to do so.

Concealed Carry – Rapid City  Ordinance 9.28.030

 You can freely carry a concealed firearm throughout South Dakota, but in some cities it can be trickier to carry any other weapon, like a knife.

According to Rapid City Ordinance 9.28.030 “It is unlawful for any person to carry concealed about his or her person any knife with a blade exceeding 3 inches in length or any sharp or dangerous weapon such as may be or could be employed in attack or defense of the person.”

The only exceptions given in the law are for firearms and law enforcement officers.

Sunflower limits – Huron Ordinance 9.64.010

South Dakota produces more sunflowers than any other state in the nation, but not every town appreciates the bright yellow plant.

Huron declares them, along with ragweed, thistles, nettles, milkweed, and a number of other plants, to be “dangerous and unhealthy” nuisances.

The exact implications that this “nuisance” status brings are unclear from reading the law. At the very least it means that the plant is considered no better than any common weed as far as the law of Huron is concerned.