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Secret Behind South Dakota License Plate Numbers

south dakota license plate

I remember an old, hack stand-up comedy joke about now that we have phones in our cars, license plates should have phone numbers on them so we can all and complain about their driving.

South Dakota license plates don’t have phone numbers on them, yet anyways. But, you can learn a little bit from the numbers. The first number on a SD license plate is the county that that car is registered in. For example, Pennington county where Rapid City is has a ‘2’ starting its plates. In Sioux Falls you have either a ‘1’ or a ’44’ depending on your relationship to 57th street.

When established in 1956 (and revised in 1987) the first nine counties were ordered by population. Starting with 10 they are in alphabetical order through Ziebach, with Oglala Lakota County (65) and Todd (67) rounding out the list. Now in 2015 the top 10 plate numbers and populations don’t correlate anymore. 1 and 2 are still 1 and 2, but Lincoln (44) is now 3rd in population. Beadle is 4 but it’s now 11th in population. See the list by population here.

I was use to this system coming from Nebraska where they do the same thing, but I still have a hard time remembering what county a plate is from. Here’s a list so we all know:
1: Minnehaha (Sioux Falls)
2: Pennington (Rapid City)
3: Brown (Aberdeen)
4: Beadle (Huron)
5: Codington (Watertown)
6: Brookings (Brookings)
7: Yankton (Yankton)
8: Davison (Mitchell)
9: Lawrence (Deadwood)
10: Aurora (Plankinton)
11: Bennett (Martin)
12: Bon Homme (Tyndall)
13: Brule (Chamberlain)
14: Buffalo (Gann Valley)
15: Butte (Belle Fourche)
16: Campbell (Mound City)
17: Charles Mix (Lake Andres)
18: Clark (Clark)
19: Clay (Vermillion)
20: Corson (McIntosh)
21: Custer (Custer)
22: Day (Webster)
23: Deuel (Clear Lake)
24: Dewey (Timber Lake)
25: Douglas (Armour)
26: Edmunds (Ipswich)
27: Fall River (Hot Springs)
28: Faulk (Faulkton)
29: Grant (Milbank)
30: Gregory (Burke)
31: Haakon (Philip)
32: Hamlin (Hayti)
33: Hand (Miller)
34: Hanson (Alexandria)
35: Harding (Buffalo)
36: Hughes (Pierre)
37: Hutchinson (Olivet)
38: Hyde (Highmore)
39: Jackson (Kadoka)
40: Jerauld (Wessington Springs)
41: Jones (Murdo)
42: Kingsbury (De Smet)
43: Lake (Madison)
44: Lincoln (Canton)
45: Lyman (Kennebec)
46: McCook (Salem)
47: McPherson (Leola)
48: Marshall (Britton)
49: Meade (Sturgis)
50: Mellette (White River)
51: Miner (Howard)
52: Moody (Flandreau)
53: Perkins (Bison)
54: Potter (Gettysburg)
55: Roberts (Sisseton)
56: Sanborn (Woonsocket)
57: Spink (Redfield)
58: Stanley (Fort Pierce)
59: Sully (Onida)
60: Tripp (Winner)
61: Turner (Parker)
62: Union (Elk Point)
63: Walworth (Selby)
64: Ziebach (Dupree)
65: Oglala Lakota County (Wounded Knee)
66: Washabaugh (merged with Jackson County in 1983)
67: Todd (Antelope)

Source: BR Licence Plates

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