Pennington Co. Sheriff’s Office is ready for Rally after months of prep

PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D. — We’re only a few days away from the start of the 82nd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area.

Did you know that the first Rally was held August 12-14, 1938? It was called the Black Hills Motor Classic, and had a race of nine participants and a small audience. The Rally is held the first weekend in August because Sturgis didn’t want to compete with established events in other communities, like the Belle Fourche Rodeo or Days of ’76 in Deadwood, because of their economic importance in the post-Depression Midwest. For more information on the timeline of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, click here.

8 2 10 Sturgis Rally Vo.mp4.00 00 18 07.still001The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office plans months in advance, working with law enforcement partners around the state and even bringing in temporary deputies.

“You’ll see those deputies, especially in our contract towns of Keystone and Hill City and Wall, where we see an increase in tourism traffic,” says Lt. Chris Hislip, a patrol lieutenant with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

In their high-visibility uniforms they do everything from traffic control to crowd patrol. Lieutenant Hislip says they try to get ahead of crimes instead of reacting to them.

“That’s the number one thing during the Rally is we want to increase our visibility and work on prevention instead of always responding to the emergency itself,” Lt. Hislip says.


Sturgis Police say that motorcycles are stolen every year during the Rally, with thieves especially targeting expensive custom bikes. They recommend taking some precautions to protect yourself and your property:

  • Be aware of where you park.
  • Avoid dark, poorly lit areas.
  • Pay attention to people standing around who seem to take particular interest in your bike.
  • Do not leave leathers, cameras, souvenirs, etc. on your bike.
  • Lock your motorcycle.
  • Factory ignition switch locks are easily overcome by thieves. High-quality disc locks, wheel locks and heavy cable or chain locks are recommended in addition to factory installed devices. Inexpensive locks are generally of poorer quality and are easily broken or cut.
  • Determined thieves can steal any motorcycle, but common sense and taking these extra precautions will reduce your chances of being a victim.

There are some common sense practices that will make everyone’s Rally that much safer: look twice, take your time, and plan your route.

“Our motorcycle enthusiasts and our folks who are visiting the Black Hills, we ask [you] to obey all laws,” Lt. Hislip says. “Do not drive above your ability or skill level; obviously no drugs or alcohol while you’re driving.”


  • Every motorcycle must be equipped with at least one but no more than two headlamps.
  • The handlebars of a motorcycle must be no higher than the shoulder height of the person operating the motorcycle.
  • All persons under the age of 18 must wear motorcycle safety helmets that are approved by the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
  • A person riding in an enclosed cab attached to a motorcycle does not have to wear a safety helmet.
  • A motorcycle operator must wear an eye protective device unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen of sufficient height and design that protects the motorcycle operator. When headlights are required to be on, a motorcycle operator cannot wear protective eye devices that are tinted or shaded to reduce the light transmission of the device below 35%.
  • Motorcycles must have at least one tail lamp, which when lighted emits a red light visible for a distance of 500 feet.
  • Noise Limits: Every motorcycle must at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.
Helmet Laws

Helmet laws by state, courtesy: Law Tigers


Sturgis City Ordinances

  • Indecent Exposure – $111
  • Open Container In Public -$61
  • Deposit of Filth – $86
  • Disorderly Conduct – $111
  • Careless Driving – $91
  • City Park Violations – $10
  • City trespassing – $111
  • Dog Running at Large – $56
  • Exhibition Driving – $66
  • Parking in Handicapped Zone – $100
  • Reckless Driving – Custody Arrest
  • Truck Routes Violations – $91
  • Use of Sound Amplification Device – court appearance required
  • Driving on bike path/sidewalk – $111

South Dakota State Laws

  • Cancelled License – $144
  • Violation of Restricted License – $94
  • Revoked Drivers License – custody arrest
  • Furnish Alcohol to Minor – court appearance required
  • Open Container in Motor Vehicle – $94
  • Possess of Controlled Substance – custody arrest
  • Possess of Drug Paraphernalia – $244
  • Possess of Marijuana – Custody Arrest
  • Possess of Substances for High Abuse (Distribution) – custody arrest
  • Carrying Loaded or Uncased Gun – custody arrest
  • Cyclists Overtaking in Same Lane – $94
  • Eye Protection Required – $20
  • Helmet Required (under age 18) – $94
  • Illegal Handlebar Height – $20
  • Operation W/O Motorcycle Endorse -$94

Juvenile Laws

  • Underage Alcohol Possession/Consumption – court appearance required
  • Underage Purchase of Cigarettes – $69

Information courtesy the official Sturgis Rally website.

In 2021, attendance at the Sturgis Rally was up 13.8% from 2020. Non-traffic citations dropped 50% total. Traffic arrests were up by nearly 24% and parking citations by nearly 28%. Total arrests and citations were down about 10%.

Want to see what the 2021 Rally looked like? Check out our photo gallery by clicking here.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Events, Local News, South Dakota News, Sturgis Rally