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  • Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in South Dakota

    Applying for a Teen Driver’s License in South Dakota

    The South Dakota Department of Public Safety (DPS) requires drivers under 18 years old to follow its graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) process.

    Beginning with an instruction permit, the process takes you through several stages and lifts restrictions as drivers become more experienced.

    GDL processes help make you a safer driver and aims to reduce the accident rates in teens.

    New to South Dakota?

    If you’re a new South Dakota resident, you transfer your out-of-state driver’s license within 90 days of moving to the state.

    If you are a teen driver, contact the DPS at (800) 952-3696 to find out which South Dakota permit or driver’s license you are eligible to receive.

    Transfer Your Out-of-State Driver’s License

    Regardless of what you apply for, you must apply in person at a DPS office. You’ll need:

    • Your parent or guardian to give permission, if you’re under 18 years old.
    • Proof of your identity, date of birth, and lawful U.S. status, such as your:
      • Certified U.S. birth certificate.
      • Valid U.S. passport.
      • Citizenship or naturalization documents.
    • Proof of your Social Security number, such as:
      • Your Social Security card.
      • A W-2 form.
      • A 1099 statement.
    • 2 documents to prove your SD residency, such as:
      • A school report card or transcript.
      • A paystub.
      • Your parent or guardian’s residency forms, if you do not have your own.
    • Payment for the fee by cash, check, or money order.
      • Contact the South Dakota DPS for exact fees, as they may be adjusted based on your age or licensing stage.

    You will need to pass a vision screening and may also need to pass a:

    • Written knowledge test.
    • Driving skills test.

    The South Dakota DPS makes certain considerations if you’ve taken Driver’s Ed in your previous state, but will only accept courses that meet South Dakota DPS requirements.

    SD Graduated Driver’s License Program

    The graduated driver licensing (GDL) process in South Dakota applies if you’re under 18 years old and wish to get your driver’s license.

    The three stages of the GDL process are:

    • Instruction permit: Allows supervised driving only.
    • Restricted minor’s permit: Allows restricted unsupervised driving.
    • Operator’s driver’s license: Allows full driving privileges.

    Read below for more information about each stage, including eligibility requirements and restrictions.

    Age Requirements

    You must meet minimum age requirements for each GDL stage:

    • Instruction permit: 14 years old.
    • Restricted minor’s permit: Eligible after holding your instruction permit for 180 days.
      • Reduced to 90 days if you pass an approved Driver’s Ed course.
    • Operator’s driver’s license: 16 years old.

    South Dakota Instruction Permit

    A South Dakota learner’s permit, or instruction permit, is required for all new drivers under 18 years old. It gives you time to learn the information and skills you need to be a responsible driver.

    To get an instruction permit, you must be at least 14 years old. Visit a DPS office in person with:

    • Your parent or guardian, so they can give their permission.
    • Proof of your identity (including date of birth and lawful U.S. status), such as your:
      • Certified U.S. birth certificate.
      • Valid U.S. passport.
      • Citizenship or naturalization documents.
    • Your Social Security card, a W-2, or a 1099 statement to prove your Social Security number.
    • 2 documents to prove your SD residency, such as your:
      • School report card or transcript.
      • Pay stub.
      • Parent or guardian’s residency forms, if you do not have your own.
    • Payment for the $20 fee (cash, check, or money order).

    To receive an instruction permit, you must pass a:

    • Vision screening.
    • Written knowledge test.
    DMV.org TIP: Don't stress about the test!

    Take a practice knowledge test to feel more prepared and confident when you go for your written permit exam.

    NOTE: Your permit will be valid for 1 year. If you let it expire and you’re under 18 years old when you reapply, you will have to start the instruction period over again.

    Instruction Permit Driving Restrictions

    From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., you are restricted to only driving with a supervising driver who:

    • Is at least 18 years old.
    • Has at least 1 year of driving experience.
    • Is sitting next to you.

    From 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., you can only drive if supervised by your parent or legal guardian.

    Driver’s Ed in South Dakota

    The best way to learn driving skills while you have your instruction permit is by completing a driver’s education course.

    If you successfully complete Driver’s Ed, you can:

    • Reduce the amount of time you must hold your instruction permit from 180 days to 90 days.
    • Bypass the SD DPS driving test.
      • Must get at least 80% in an approved Driver’s Ed class.
      • Driver’s Ed certificate must be no more than 1 year old.

    Restricted Minor’s Permit

    The restricted minor’s permit is the intermediate stage between the instruction permit and full driving privileges.

    To move on to your restricted minor’s permit, you must have:

    • Held your instruction permit for at least 180 days (90 days if you took an approved Driver’s Ed class). It cannot be expired.
    • No traffic violation convictions within the previous 6 months.

    NOTE: If you are at least 16 years old when you complete the requirements of the instruction permit, you can skip the restricted minor’s permit stage and get a full operator’s license.

    Apply for a Restricted Minor’s Permit

    You must apply in person at a DPS office. You’ll need:

    • Your parent or guardian present to give permission.
    • Proof of your identity (including date of birth and lawful U.S. status), such as your:
      • Certified U.S. birth certificate.
      • Valid U.S. passport.
      • Citizenship or naturalization documents.
    • Proof of your Social Security number (your Social Security card, a W-2, or a 1099 statement).
    • 2 documents to prove your SD residency, such as:
      • A school report card or transcript.
      • A pay stub.
      • Your parent or guardian’s residency forms, if you do not have your own.

    It is free to move from the instruction permit to the restricted minor’s permit.

    To receive your restricted minor’s permit, you’ll have to either:

    • Pass a road skills (driving) test.
      OR
    • Present a signed Driver’s Ed completion certificate showing you scored at least 80% in an approved course (must be dated within 1 year).

    Your restricted minor’s permit will be valid for 5 years.

    Minor’s Permit Driving Restrictions

    With a restricted minor’s permit, you can drive:

    • Unsupervised from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with your parent or guardian’s permission.
    • Supervised by a parent or guardian from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

    South Dakota Operator’s License

    The South Dakota operator’s license is a regular driver’s license with full privileges.

    You can apply for your operator’s license once you turn 16 years old.

    If you do not apply for an operator’s license, your restricted minor’s permit will become an operator’s license when you turn 18 years old.

    Apply for Your Operator’s License

    You can apply for your operator’s license by mail or in person.

    If you are moving directly from an instruction permit to an operator’s license, you must apply in person.

    By Mail

    To apply for your operator’s driver’s license by mail, you must:

    • Be at least 16 years old.
    • Have had no traffic convictions.

    You will need:

    • A completed South Dakota Driver’s License/I.D. Card Application.
      • If you are under 18 years old, your parent or guardian must sign the form AND their signature must be notarized.
    • A copy of your current minor’s permit.
    • 2 documents proving you are a SD resident.
      • These can be copies.
      • They may be provided by your parent who signs the form.
    • A check or money order for the $20 fee.
      • NOTE: The fee is adjusted if you are 17 years old. For the exact fee, call the South Dakota Department of Public Safety at (800) 952-3696 .

    Send your application materials to:

    Drivers Licensing Program
    118 West Capitol Ave.
    Pierre, SD 57501

    NOTE: When you receive your new driver’s license, mail your permit to the SD DPS in the envelope provided.

    In Person

    You can also apply for your operator’s license in person at a DPS office.

    To upgrade your minor’s restricted permit to an operator’s license, you will need to bring:

    • Your parent or guardian to give permission.
    • Your minor’s restricted permit.
    • 2 documents proving you are a SD resident.
      • These can be provided by your parent who signs the form.
    • Payment for the $20 fee (cash, check, or money order). If you are 17 years old, your fee will be adjusted. Contact the DPS for details.

    To upgrade your instruction permit to an operator’s driver’s license, you must be at least 16 years old. You will need to bring:

    • Your parent or guardian to give permission.
    • Proof of your identity (including date of birth and lawful U.S. status), such as your:
      • Certified U.S. birth certificate.
      • Valid U.S. passport.
      • Citizenship or naturalization documents.
    • Your Social Security card, a W-2, or a 1099 statement.
    • 2 documents to prove your SD residency, such as:
      • A school report card or transcript.
      • A pay stub.
      • Your parent or guardian’s residency forms.
    • Payment for the $20 fee (payable by cash, check, or money order). The fee is adjusted if you are 17 years old. Call (800) 952-3696 for the exact fee.

    You will also need to:

    • Pass a road skills (driving) test.
      OR
    • Present a signed Driver’s Ed completion certificate showing you scored at least 80% in an approved course (must be dated within 1 year of your application).
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