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Driver’s Education in South Dakota
Driver’s education is offered through the South Dakota Department of Education (DOE) as part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) process.
While not required in South Dakota, taking an APPROVED driver’s education course has several advantages:
- It reduces the time you’re required to hold a learner’s permit before being eligible for a SD driver’s license.
- It allows you to bypass driver’s license tests.
Of course, the big advantage of driver’s education is getting the information and skills you need to be a responsible driver.
PLEASE NOTE: Online Drivers Ed courses are NOT approved by the State of South Dakota, nor do they qualify for the purpose of reducing the number of days a minor must hold an instruction permit, nor do they qualify as a waiver for the knowledge or drive tests.
You do not need your SD instruction permit in order to take driver’s education.
Without an instruction permit, you can ONLY drive while accompanied by your certified driver’s education instructor.
If you choose to get your SD learner’s permit before driver’s education, keep in mind that you must:
- Be at least 14 years old.
- Pass a written exam.
- Pass a vision test.
- Provide required identification and residency documents.
NOTE: If you successfully complete driver’s education before applying for your instruction permit, your written test will be waived.
For more information about applying for an instruction permit, see our page on Drivers Permits in South Dakota.
Taking Driver’s Ed has several benefits as long as you pass BOTH the classroom and driving sections of the class with a score of 80% or higher.
If you are applying for your South Dakota learner's permit, successful completion of driver’s education will waive the required knowledge test.
If you are applying for your restricted minor permit:
- You can apply after holding your learner's permit for 90 days (instead of 180 days).
- Your DPS written and driving tests will be waived.
Driver’s Ed Course Curriculum
In a SD driver’s education course, you can expect to learn theories and skills to help you become a safe and responsible driver.
The classroom section of Driver’s Ed usually covers topics such as:
- Driving laws and regulations.
- Road signs and traffic signals.
- Moving violations and penalties.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Behind-the-wheel instruction teaches you the skills and techniques you need to operate a vehicle.
In South Dakota, driver’s education can be taken:
- At your high school.
- At a private training school.
The Driver's Ed course you choose MUST be DOE-approved for you to receive reduced learner's permit time and testing exemptions (see “About SD Driver’s Education” above).
Other courses, including online courses, CANNOT be used to reduce the amount of time you must hold your permit. However, these courses can still help you acquire the information you need to pass the DPS written and driving tests.
After completing your driver’s education course in South Dakota, you will receive your completion certificate and be ready for the next step of the GDL process. Depending on what stage you are at now, you can apply for your:
- Learner's permit or minor’s restricted permit at 14 years old.
- Your SD operator’s license at 16 years old.
You must not have received any traffic convictions in the 6 months prior to your application for a minor’s restricted permit or SD driver's license.
For more information about applying for your restricted driver's license, including fees, documents you need, and other requirements, see our Applying for a New License (Teen) in South Dakota page.
Remember, Driver’s Ed not only gets you through the GDL process faster and waives the DPS testing requirement, it also gives you a solid foundation for safe and responsible driving.
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