Applying for a New CDL in South Dakota

Driving big rigs can be a great way to earn a living—and see the country from coast to coast. But in order to do it, you'll have to get your commercial driver's license (CDL).

To get one in South Dakota, you'll have to go through the licensing process run by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as well as follow the national regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Who Can Get a South Dakota CDL?

To be eligible for a SD commercial driver's license, you'll need to:

  • Be a South Dakota resident.
    • If you are transferring an out-of-state CDL, you must do so within 30 days of establishing residency in South Dakota.
  • Have a valid, non-commercial license.
  • Be at least:
    • 18 years old to drive within South Dakota only—called intrastate driving.
    • 21 years old to drive anywhere in the country—called interstate driving.
  • Gather paperwork to prove your identity, including:
    • Date of birth and lawful presence in the United States (1 document).
    • Social Security number (1 document).
    • SD residential address (2 documents dated within 1 year).

Visit the South Dakota DPS' guide to identity documents in the SD CDL Manual for details on which documents are acceptable and how many you need to bring. Please note that all documents MUST be originals; the DPS will not accept photocopies.

SD Commercial Learner's Permit

Before you can get a CDL, you'll have to get your CLP—that is, commercial learner's permit.

The process is a bit complex, so you are encouraged to take a CDL education course first, to ensure you're as successful as possible—although this step is not required by either the FMCSA or the SD Division of Motor Vehicles.

Whenever you feel ready, schedule an appointment with your local DMV office and:

  • Have the proper identifying documents with you (see above for more information).
  • Bring all of the correct medical paperwork (see below for details).
  • Complete a South Dakota Driver License/I.D. Card Application (REV 2015).
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Pay the appropriate fee:
    • $33 CDL fee.
    • $15 per endorsement added.

At this point, you'll also have to take all of the written exams for the classification of commercial driver license you want, as well as any endorsements you hope to add to your license.

Once all of the above is done, you'll have your commercial learner's permit! Congratulations!

Your CLP will be valid for 180 days, and you'll be able to renew it once (for an additional 180 days) within 1 year of acquisition.

South Dakota CLP Restrictions

Getting your CLP is a great first step, but while driving with it, you'll need to follow a couple of different rules. Per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, commercial learner's permit holders can only drive:

  • On public roads.
  • While accompanied by a full CDL holder who is licensed to drive the same class of vehicle.

You'll also have to practice with your CLP for at least 14 days before taking your skills test to earn your full commercial driver license.

If you're not ready by that point, it's okay! Your commercial learner's permit is valid for 180 days, and you can renew it once within 1 year after receiving it, making it valid for an additional 180 days.

Commercial Driver's License in SD

You're almost there! Just one more step remains before you can earn your CDL: the skills test. Make sure that at least 14 days have passed since you received your CLP; otherwise, you will be disallowed from testing.

In South Dakota, all skills tests are conducted by third-party testers. You'll have to schedule an appointment at least 2 days in advance with one of the companies in order to take the test.

Make sure to:

  • Ask the tester if they provide a vehicle for testing.
    • If not, you'll have to arrange to bring the same class of vehicle you hope to operate after licensing.
  • Bring with you to your exam:
    • Your SD commercial learner's permit.
    • Your medical information (see below for details).
    • The appropriate fee.
      • Fees vary by testing agency but may not cost more than $90 plus tax, per SD law.

The exam itself consists of several parts, including the:

  • Pre-trip inspection.
  • Basic vehicle control.
  • On-road test.

After passing each section successfully, you'll be officially issued your South Dakota commercial driver's license!

Fees for CDLs in South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety currently charges the following for CDLs and related services:

  • Endorsements: $15 each.
  • Commercial driver's license: $33.
  • Skills exam: Varies by testing facility; no more than $90 plus tax.*

*NOTE: Skills exams in SD are performed by third-party testers only. Rates may vary.

CDL Medical Requirements

To get a CDL in South Dakota, you'll first need to be deemed physically fit for the job.

The DPS requires all CDL applicants to obtain the proper medical paperwork before applying for a commercial learner's permit.

To be considered medically certified in South Dakota, you'll need to successfully complete:

For more information on the medical process or how to self-certify, you can check out the South Dakota DPS' CDL medical information page.

Military CDL Testing Waivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and South Dakota DPS have developed a program to help veterans and currently enlisted service members more easily obtain a commercial driver's license by waiving the need for a skills test.

To qualify, you'll need to:

  • Be currently enlisted OR within 1 year of having left the service.
  • Be a South Dakota resident.
  • Have a valid SD driver's license.
  • Have driven a military commercial vehicle for at least 2 years immediately prior to applying for a South Dakota CDL, or 4 years if you are/were in the Reserves or National Guard (part time).
    • The vehicle must have be/have been the same class as that which you are applying to drive with your CDL.

If you're eligible, provide the DPS with:

  • A completed Application for Military Skills Test Waiver (Form CDL-SK TST WVR).
  • Your phone number.
  • The last 2 years of your W-2 forms proving your military service.
    • National Guard or Reserve members must provide the last 4 years.
  • Your military service record, proving your active duty or honorable discharge.
    • Your current military commercial driver license.
    • A military CDL expired within 1 year of applying for the waiver.

Send all of the above to:

Driver Licensing
118 W. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety will contact you with next steps after receiving your application.

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