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Driver’s Education in South Carolina
The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires that teens under 17 years old complete Driver’s Ed before applying for a driver’s license.
Driver’s education is a combination of classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training that teaches young drivers the basics of operating a vehicle. It also covers essential theories and techniques for safe and responsible driving.
Read more about South Carolina driver’s education courses and requirements below.
The beginner’s permit (or learner’s permit) is your first step toward getting a SC driver’s license. You’ll need to do this before you begin your Driver’s Ed course.
To apply for a South Carolina beginner’s permit, you must:
- Be at least 15 years old.
- Pass a vision test and a knowledge test.
- Prove your identity and SC residency.
- Show proof of your insurance.
- Have your parent or guardian with you to sign your application.
For more information about applying for your permit, including acceptable forms of required proof, fees, and driving restrictions, see our Drivers Permits in South Carolina page.DMV.org Tip: Ace the written exam!
Take an online practice test before heading to the DMV, and feel entirely prepared to pass the test on your first try.
New South Carolina Resident?
If you move to South Carolina and you have a learner’s permit from another state, you can take it to your local DMV office and trade it for a SC beginner’s permit. However, you will then need to hold your permit for at least 180 days before you can apply for any other type of South Carolina driver’s license. This does not include any time you held your out-of-state permit.
You may have to retake Driver’s Ed if you took it in another state. Check with your local DMV office or contact the DMV Call Center at (803) 896-5000 for more information.
South Carolina driver’s education courses are offered at high schools as well as private companies. They are held during the school year, and sometimes during the summer.
The SC DMV provides a list of approved private Driver’s Ed courses. Course fees vary, so contact your driving school for more information.
Contact your high school for more information about school-based Driver’s Ed.
Driver’s Ed Course Curriculum
Driver’s education typically covers the laws, theories, and skills necessary for driving safely. Topics include:
- Driving laws and regulations.
- Operating a motor vehicle.
- Distractions and hazards.
- The effects of alcohol and drugs on driving.
In addition to the information that you’ll receive in the classroom, you will also get behind-the-wheel instruction to develop your driving skills.
Part of your classroom instruction or behind-the-wheel training may include driving simulation.
Classroom & Behind-the-Wheel Hours
The South Carolina DMV requires that Driver’s Ed courses provide at least 8 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
Once you have completed the Driver’s Ed requirement, you can apply for your driver’s license once you:
- Log 40 hours of driving practice (including 10 hours at night) with a parent or guardian.
- Have held your SC learner’s permit for at least 180 days.
Depending on your age, you can apply for a:
- Conditional License if you are 15 years old.
- Special Restricted License if you are 16 years old.
Upon application for your SC conditional or restricted license, you will need to:
Submit Form PDLA (available at SC DMV offices or from your driver’s education provider) certifying:
- Completion of driver’s education.
- Completion of driving practice.
- School attendance.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass a road skills test.
Learn more about the SC driver’s license application process, including required documents and fees, on our Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in South Carolina page.
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