Drivers Permits in South Carolina
Before you can get a regular driver's license in South Carolina, you must hold a beginner's permit for at least 180 days―no matter how old you are. This permit allows you to practice driving before you get a full license.
South Carolina allows you to apply for a beginner's permit when you turn 15 years old. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue you this permit after you pass a written knowledge test.
When you're ready, visit your local DMV. Take along your proof of identity and citizenship, Social Security card, proof of residency in the state, and proof of auto insurance. Your parent or legal guardian must accompany you to sign the application form. The DMV will require you to pass a vision screening and the written (knowledge) test.
South Carolina charges $2 for the written test and $2.50 for the beginner's permit.
The beginner's permit carries with it certain restrictions:
- You can drive 6 a.m.-midnight with any licensed driver 21 years or older accompanying you in the front passenger seat. From midnight-6 a.m., you can drive with only your parent or legal guardian accompanying you.
- You must practice a minimum of 40 hours while holding your permit, with 10 hours of those hours being driven at night. This practice time counts only when you're being supervised by your parent or legal guardian.
- You must keep your permit for at least 180 days before applying for a regular driver's license.
If you are under 17 years old, the next step after a beginner's permit is the conditional license (if you are 15 1/2) and a restricted license (if you are 16). (If you are 17, you can apply for a regular driver's license after holding a beginner's permit for 180 days.)
If you're under 17, you can apply for a conditional or restricted license after you've held the beginner's permit for a minimum of 180 days and have met the following requirements.
You'll need to submit a PDLA form, which certifies your school attendance and participation, that you've successfully completed a driver's education course, and that you've practiced driving the minimum number of hours required under the beginner's permit.
For the conditional or restricted license, you'll have to pass the vision test again, and you'll also have to pass a road skills (driving) test. Call ahead to your local DMV to schedule an appointment for the driving test.
The conditional and restricted licenses also carry restrictions, although they are fewer than with the beginner's permit. With a conditional or restricted license, you may:
- Drive alone 6 a.m.-6 p.m. (or 6 a.m.-8 p.m. during daylight saving time).
- Drive with any licensed driver 21 years or older 6 p.m.-midnight.
- Drive only with your parent or legal guardian midnight-6 a.m.
- Not have more than two passengers under the age of 21 unless you have a licensed driver over the age of 21 accompanying you. This restriction does not apply to family members you are driving to or from school.
After you've held this conditional or restricted license for one full year with no traffic offenses or accidents, you may apply for your regular driver's license.
If the time-of-day restrictions imposed on these licenses interfere with a regular work or school schedule, you may request a waiver from your local DMV. You'll need to submit one statement from your parents or legal guardian and one from your employer or school official stating that the time restrictions conflict with your work or school duties. You'll also need to pay a $12.50 waiver fee.
If your permit or license is lost or stolen, you'll need to report it right away to get a replacement. First, report it to your local police. They'll complete a report, which you'll need to take with you to the local DMV. You'll need to complete an affidavit and apply for a replacement permit or license using the same process you did when making the original application. A duplicate license costs $10.
Other Topics in This Section
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- Drivers Training Requirements: Do You Have to Enroll in Drivers Training?
- How to Choose a Drivers Training Program
- Who’s Required to Take Drivers Training
- Transferring a Learner Permit to a New State
- Teen Driver Safety: Seat Belt Use
- Graduating From a Drivers Permit to a Restricted Drivers License