Basic Licensing Information
Anyone who operates a motor vehicle or motor-driven cycle on public roadways in South Dakota is required to have a driver license. You are required to have a South Dakota driver license if you live here for more than 90 days. If you are a commercial driver license holder, you must apply for a South Dakota license within 30 days. South Dakota law (SDCL 32-12-39) states that every licensee shall have their Driver License in their immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle. The following people can drive on a valid license from their home state, so long as they are at least 16 years old.
Military - Members of the Armed Forces on active duty or members of foreign military on temporary duty with the Armed Forces, as well as their spouse and children.
Student - Students who are here to further their education and who are considered a non-resident for tuition purposes.
You may obtain a driver license if you:
If you have never held a South Dakota or out-of-state driver license, you will have to provide the following documents: proof of your identity (if your name is different than the name on your identity document, you will need to bring additional proof of your legal name), date of birth, and lawful status, proof of your Social Security number, and two documents to prove your principle address. Click here for a complete list of acceptable documents.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will be required to present a Naturalization and Immigration record authorizing your legal presence in the United States. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will be required to present a naturalization and immigration record, establishing your legal presence in the U.S. Our examiners have the right to question any documents and request additional information for verification of identity prior to license issuance.
The driver license manual will provide information needed to drive a passenger vehicle. If you want a license to drive a commercial motor vehicle, you need to read the Commercial Driver License (CDL) Manual. If you want a license to drive a motorcycle, you need to read the Motorcycle Manual
For a look at our new federally compliant driver licenses and ID cards (issued starting December 31, 2009), click here. For a look at the driver license and ID cards issued prior to December 31, 2009, click here.
Certified Birth Certificate, Social Security card, and Residential Address information required for everyone. Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. For a list of all required documents, click here.
Instruction Permit - To obtain an Instruction Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision and knowledge test. The permit is valid for one year. Minors at least 14 years of age, but less than 18 years of age, must hold the valid permit continuously for 180 days (90 days if they have successfully completed an approved Department of Education driver education course) prior to upgrade of permit to a Restricted Minor's permit or Operator's License. If under 18 years of age and the Instruction Permit expires, a minor would be required to obtain another Instruction Permit for either the 90-day or 180-day requirement.
Restrictions: A licensed driver 18 years of age or older with at least one year's driving experience must be present in the seat next to the person holding the Instruction Permit.
Restricted Minor's Permit - To obtain a Restricted Minor's Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge, and driving test, complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit, and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months prior to obtaining the Restricted Minor's Permit. You must show all documents that were required for the Instruction Permit. An individual up to age 18 years of age may hold a Restricted Minor's Permit. The permit is valid for 5 years.
Restrictions: Entitles the holder, while having the permit in his immediate physical possession, to operate a motor vehicle during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. if the motor vehicle is being operated with the permission of the minor's parent or legal guardian; and during the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. if the minor's parent or legal guardian is occupying a seat beside the driver. Upon turning 18 years of age, the permit converts to Operator's License.
Operator's License - To obtain an Operator's License, you must be at least 16 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge, and driving test. If a minor is at least 16 years of age, but under 18 years of age, they must complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months prior to obtaining the Operator's License. The license is valid for 5 years. To renew an Operator's License, you must pass the vision test.
Motorcycle Instruction Permit - To obtain a Motorcycle Instruction Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision and knowledge (car/truck and motorcycle) tests. Minors at least 14 years of age, but less than 18 years of age, must hold the valid permit continuously of 180 days (90 days if they have successfully completed an approved Department of Education driver education course) prior to upgrade of the permit to a Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit or a person has successfully completed the national motorcycle safety course, the Motorcycle Instruction Permit only needs to be held for 30 continuous days. The permit is valid for one year. If under 18 years of age and the Motorcycle Instruction Permit expires, the minor would be required to obtain another Instruction Permit for the required time.
Restrictions: The Motorcycle Instruction Permit holder may operate a motorcycle during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. if accompanied by a licensed motorcycle operator who is a least 18 years of age, who has at least one year of driving experience, and who is driving another motorcycle along with the permit holder. No Motorcycle Instruction Permit holder may carry another person on the motorcycle.
Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit - To obtain a Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge (car/truck and motorcycle), and motorcycle drive tests, complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit, and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past 6 months prior to obtaining the Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit. An individual up to 18 years of age may hold a Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit. The permit is valid for 5 years
Restrictions: Entitles the holder, while having the permit in his immediate possession, to operate a motorcycle during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. if the motorcycle is being operated with the permission of the minor's parent of legal guardian.
Motorcycle Operator's License - To obtain a Motorcycle License, you must be at least 16 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge (car/truck and motorcycle), and motorcycle driving tests. If a minor is at least 16 years of age, but under 18 years of age, they must complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit and not have been convicted of a traffic violation during the past 6 months prior to obtaining the Motorcycle Operator's License. The license is valid for 5 years or on the same date as the expiration date on the valid documents authorizing the applicant's presence in the United States, whichever occurs first.
Duplicate License - When a duplicate license is obtained, your license will retain the original license expiration date. To obtain a duplicate license, you must provide proof of identity, date of birth, and lawful status, proof of your social security number, and two documents proving your principal address. Our examiners may question any documents and request additional information for verification of identity.
Moped Operators - You must be in possession of a valid operator's license.
Identification Card - To obtain an Identification Card, you must provide proof of identity, date of birth, and lawful status, proof of your social security number, and two documents proving your principal address. Our examiners may question any documents and request additional information for verification of identity. There is no age requirement.
Any driver license or non-driver identification card issued to any individual under 21 years of age with 5 years or less remaining until applicant's 21st birthday will expire 30 days after individual's 21st birthday.
NOTE: Every licensee shall have his Operator's License in his immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display the license upon demand of a judge or a court of record, a magistrate, a peace officer, or a field deputy, or inspector of the Department of Public Safety.
Class [A] License - Combination Vehicles - Any combination of vehicles with gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds falls in Group A, providing the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Most Class A vehicles are trucks such as tractor-trailer or truck and trailer combinations. Driving a Class A vehicle requires considerably more skill and knowledge than driving vehicles in Classes B and C. Because these skills include those required to drive a Class B and C (with appropriate endorsements) vehicle, a driver who has a Class A license also may drive vehicles in Classes B and C.
Class [B] License - Heavy Straight Vehicles - Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds falls in Group B, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. Class B includes straight trucks and large buses. Safely driving these heavy vehicles requires considerably more knowledge and skill than driving the small trucks and buses found in Class C. Because they include the skills required to drive Class C (with appropriate endorsements) vehicles, drivers who have qualified for a Class B license may also drive vehicles in Class C.
Class [C] License - Small Vehicles - Any single vehicle with a GVWR less than 26,001 pounds falls in Group C, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. However, vehicles of this size are included in the Commercial Driver License (CDL) program only if they are: 1) designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver, or 2) used to transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring placarding under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR Part 172, Subpart F).
There are a great variety of vehicles in Class C. Some other large Class C vehicles may require more skill and knowledge to operate than do the smaller ones. However, the licensing category is based principally on the type of cargo carried. Because of the seriousness of an accident involving hazardous material or human passengers, the safe operation of even the smaller vehicles in Class C requires special knowledge and the drivers of these vehicles must have a CDL.
All commercial drivers who drive certain types of vehicles or haul certain types of cargo must add endorsements to their CDL licenses to show that they have the specialized knowledge required for these operations. There are 6 kinds of CDL endorsements that may be required, depending on the vehicle or type of cargo.
Double and Triple Trailers [T] - Many drivers who are qualified to drive Class A vehicles may wish to pull double or triple trailers. Research shows considerable additional knowledge and skill is necessary to safely pull double and triple trailers in various traffic conditions and driving environments. Consequently, adding the endorsement to the licenses of Class A drivers is necessary if they wish to pull double or triple trailers. A special knowledge examination on the problems associated with pulling multiple trailers must be passed.
Tank Vehicle [N] - Drivers of vehicles that are used to haul liquids or gaseous materials in permanent tanks or in portable tanks having a rating capacity of 1,000 gallons or more must have specialized knowledge and skills to drive safely. Liquids in bulk cause driving control problems because the cargo is heavy, may shift, and has a high center of gravity. These drivers must add an endorsement to their license showing they have passed a special knowledge examination on the problems posed by large volume liquid cargoes.
Passengers [P] - Any driver who wishes to drive a vehicle having a design capacity to carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver, must add a passenger endorsement to their CDL. They must pass a special knowledge examination on safety considerations when transporting passengers and must pass skills tests in a passenger vehicle. The endorsement applies to applicants who wish to drive a bus in any class (B or C).
School Bus [S] - Any driver who wishes to drive a school bus with the intent to carry students to and from school or in connection with school activities must have a passenger school bus endorsement. They must pass a special knowledge examination and skill test.
Hazardous Materials [H] - Any driver, regardless of the class of their vehicle (A, B, or C) who wishes to haul hazardous materials or waste in amounts requiring placards must add a hazardous materials endorsement to their CDL. They must pass a special written examination on how to recognize, handle, and transport hazardous materials.
Combination Hazardous Materials and Tank Vehicle [X] - Drivers who haul hazardous materials or hazardous waste in a tank vehicle must add an X endorsement to their CDL, showing they have passed the special knowledge examinations for both tank vehicles and hazardous materials.
Air Brakes Restriction - Most drivers of heavy commercial vehicles drive trucks or buses equipped with air brakes. Therefore, part of the examination process covers the operation and critical aspects of air brake systems. Many Class A and B vehicles have air brakes. Some Class C vehicles also have air brakes. If a driver cannot pass the air brakes knowledge test, or if the driver does not successfully complete the CDL skills tests in a vehicle equipped with air brakes, a restriction must be placed on the applicant's CDL showing that they are not qualified to drive a vehicle with air brakes.
Cooperation With Examiner
You may apply for a South Dakota Operator License at any exam station within the state. Licenses may be renewed 180 days prior to their expiration date unless the applicant is turning 21 years of age upon renewal. Licenses expiring 30 days after licensee's 21st birthday may only be renewed within the 30 days immediately following the birth date.
For more information regarding driver license procedures, testing times, and locations, handicap assistance, and other issues, please call 1.800.952.3696 or 605.773.6883.
1. Photo: During the licensing process, your photo will be taken first.
2. Vision Test: If you wear glasses or contact lenses while taking the vision test, you will be required to wear them whenever driving. If you do not pass the vision test, you must present a statement from an optometrist or ophthalmologist certifying that you possess the visual ability to drive safely before continuing the examination process.
3. Knowledge Test: You will be required to pass a test covering the rules of the road and safe driving practices. Those wishing to obtain a motorcycle or commercial operators license should also obtain those operator manuals from any South Dakota Driver Licensing office.
4. Driving Test: This test will provide you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The driving test consists of normal driving tasks. You will not be asked to do anything against the law.
If you fail any of the tests, you may not re-test before the next working day. You may wait longer if you want more time to study the manual or to practice driving. You are allowed 3 opportunities to test for each fee paid within a 6 month period. After 3 failures in a 6-month period, the fee would need to paid again.
Restrictions Placed On License
An operator license may be issued subject to certain restrictions. For example, a person who cannot see clearly with their right or left eye could be restricted to driving a vehicle with a left outside rearview mirror.
Other restrictions include:
If you chose yes for any of these options listed below, it will be identified on the license. If you chose not to designate, the option is left blank.
Organ and Tissue Donation:
By making the decision to become a designated organ donor, you have the power to give the Gift of Life. When you indicate on your license or identification card that you wish to give the precious gift of life by being an organ and tissue donor, you are relieving your loved ones of the burden of making that decision for you at the time of your death.
If, at some future time, you decide to amend or revoke your gift of life, you may do so by:
Share your decision with your family. Knowing what you want can be a source of comfort for your family.
If you are renewing or applying for your driver license or non-driver identification card and wish to become a designated organ donor, you may indicate so by marking the appropriate box on the application form. If you choose to be shown as an organ donor on your driver license or non-driver identification card, you will be required to certify on the application that you have read the donor information provided to you.
If you are not planning to apply for a new driver license or non-driver identification card but would like to be designated as an organ donor on your record, please use the Donor and Tissue registry form below. Once the form is completed and returned to our office, we will send you an organ donor sticker to affix to your driver license or non-driver identification card.
The following forms are for use ONLY by South Dakota residents who possess a South Dakota driver license or ID card:
Should you decide to indicate becoming a designated organ donor on your driver license or non-driver identification card, we sincerely thank you for helping in this most worthy cause, and we hope you will urge others to join us in this effort.
If you have questions regarding organ donation, please contact Life-Source by visiting this link or calling toll free 1.888.5.DONATE.
You have the option of checking the South Dakota Driver License application yes or no if you have a living will governing the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.
Durable Power of Attorney:
You may check the South Dakota Driver License application if you have "Durable power of Attorney" that designates the withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment.
Effective July 1, 2012, veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military have the option of adding the word "Veteran" to the front of their South Dakota driver license or identification card. Veterans who wish to add the designation to their driver license or non-driver ID card may visit any South Dakota driver license office. They will need to present their DD-214, which shows their honorable discharge status from active duty, or present a certificate signed by a county or tribal veterans service officer verifying their status. They will also need to provide the other documents required of any applicant and pay the appropriate duplicate or renewal fee.
(Effective July 1, 1986)
|Driving while Intoxicated||10*|
|Eluding/Attempting to Elude||6|
|Failure to Yield Right of Way||4|
|Driving Wrong Side of Roadway||4|
|Stop Sign/Light Violation||3|
|Other moving violations||2|
*State Law requires revocation of license for Driving While Intoxicated
Any operator who accumulates 15 points in any 12 consecutive months, or 22 points in any 24 consecutive months is subject to driver license suspension.
Periods of Suspension
Second Suspension........................................6 Months Maximum
Subsequent Suspension....................................1 Year Maximum
Upon operator's request, a hearing is provided before suspension.
Where multiple offenses arise out of a single incident, points will be assessed on the offense carrying the highest point value.
No points will be assessed for speeding, standing, parking, equipment, size, or weight violations including speed limits set by the Department of Transportation for control of size and weight-related damage to highways.
Points are assessed on out-of-state convictions just as if the violations were committed in South Dakota.
Click Here for an online version of the South Dakota Driver Manual. The manual contains all information that you will be expected to know for the required exam to obtain your driver license.
Road Ready Teens - This is a site that helps teens make a safe transition from the passenger seat to the driver seat. It includes safety tips, information about state laws and licensing regulations, and even an online driving game. The Road Ready StreetWise video game shows teens the results of distractions of passengers, the results of speeding, and the effects of alcohol.
South Dakota Safety Council's Alive at 25
In May of 2008, the South Dakota Department of Public Safety helped launch Alive at 25, a classroom-based defensive driving course designed for people under the age of 25. This course has a proven track record for diminishing crash statistics among those who take the class. However, this course does not qualify for the purpose of reducing the number of days a minor must hold an instruction permit. The course also does not qualify as a waiver for the knowledge or drive tests.
Online Driver Instruction Classes
The links below are a few examples of the online driver education courses available. The State of South Dakota does not review, approve, or certify any online courses and, although these courses can be a great tool, they do not qualify for the purpose of reducing the number of days a minor must hold an instruction permit (the permit still needs to be held 180 days versus 90 days for a state approved driver education course). The online courses also do not qualify as a waiver for the knowledge or drive tests.
In order to keep your driver license, you must drive safely at all times. You can lose your license for:
The loss of a driver license and/or privilege to drive or apply for a license. The license must be surrendered to the Department or the courts before an eligibility date can be determined. Following revocation, all applicable tests will be required in addition to the application fee and a reinstatement fee.
The loss of a driver license and/or privilege to drive or apply for a license. The license must be surrendered to the Department or the courts before an eligibility date can be determined. Following suspension, no testing will be required unless the license has expired. Application fees and the reinstatement fee will be required.
A person whose license has been revoked/suspended is required by law to pay a license reinstatement fee in addition to the application fee when they are eligible to apply for a license. Vision and knowledge tests will be required following a revocation and, in certain instances, the driving test will also be required.
Restricted Driver License
Under certain circumstances, a driver whose license is under suspension or revocation may be issued a restricted driver license enabling them to drive under certain restrictions imposed by the Department. These restrictions will be noted on the driver license.
Restricted Minor's Permit
If the Department receives record of a conviction for a traffic violation committed before the driver's 16th birthday or a violation of the restricted permit the driving privileges shall be SUSPENDED for a period of 30 days or as otherwise required by law. A second conviction shall result in SUSPENSION of the driving privilege until the permit holder's 16th birthday, or for 90 days, whichever is longer. Receipt of a conviction for Class 1 misdemeanor or felony will result in a suspension of the license until their 16th birthday or as required by law. If the department receives a conviction for a violation of the restriction of the license for a minor 16 or 17 years of age, the driving privileges shall be suspended for 30 days for each conviction. A person who has a restricted permit suspended need not pay the reinstatement fee and applicable fee unless the suspension is for a conviction of a moving traffic offense assessed six or more points. The reinstatement fee and application fee will be required following revocation of the restricted permit. Any applicable tests will also be required.
Vehicle Registration & Titles
Please click here to visit the Division of Motor Vehicle web site for information regarding vehicle registration and titling.
Financial Responsibility – SR22 Requirements
Any operator who has had his license revoked or suspended following a JUDGMENT, a conviction for NO INSURANCE, VEHICULAR HOMICIDE, DWI, or 2ND OFFENSE RECKLESS DRIVING in a one-year period must establish proof of financial responsibility for the future before he may drive or re-register any vehicle in this state. Most motorists provide proof of financial responsibility through automobile insurance.
South Dakota state law SDCL 32-35-113 requires that the owner of any motor vehicle required to be registered shall at all times maintain in force one of the following forms of financial responsibility.
Written evidence of your financial responsibility must be carried in the vehicle covered and presented to any law enforcement officer upon request.
Acceptable written evidence is an insurance policy or identification card identifying the name of the company, policy number, effective date of coverage and the date of expiration, or certificate of deposit issued by the State Treasurer or Certificate of Self-Insurance.
A conviction for failure to maintain proof of financial responsibility is a Class 2 Misdemeanor (30 days imprisonment in a county jail, or $100 fine or both), driver license suspension for a period of not less than 30 days or more than one year, and filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the State of South Dakota for 3 years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license.
There are some things you need to know when getting your license:
# 1: How to drive. Although a manual cannot actively give you pointers, it does have all of the information you need to be a safe driver. Click here for an online copy of the South Dakota driver's manual.
# 2: Start a healthy habit and wear your seatbelt. Seat belts save lives, and it's a $20 ticket if you don't wear one.
# 3: DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. For that matter, don't use any drugs and drive. In the U.S., teens are already the highest risk for crashes. 36% of teen crashes are the result of alcohol. South Dakota has a Zero Tolerance law. It states there will be no tolerance for a minor who is driving with a Blood Alcohol Level of .02 or above. If you are convicted, you will lose your license.
#4: Staff in the SD Driver Licensing Program and law enforcement personnel are here to help you with the transition to being a licensed and safe driver. If you have any questions, you may contact the Driver Licensing Program in Pierre by calling 605-773-6883 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time.
#5: The license or permit of a minor may be canceled by a parent or guardian. The Department of Public Safety must receive a written request from the guardian who signed the minor's original application.
#6: An Instruction Permit holder is entitled to drive during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. if the motor vehicle is operated under the direction of a licensed adult. During the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the permit holder must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and that parent or guardian must occupy the seat beside the driver.
#7: If an individual under the age of 16 has an Instruction Permit and is convicted of a traffic violation or a violation of the restricted hours, the permit will be suspended for 30 days. Receipt of a conviction of a felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor for a minor under 16 years of age will result in a suspension of the license until their 16th birthday or as required by law. If a 16 or 17 year old violates the restrictions of the permit, the license will be suspended.
#8: A Restricted Minor's Permit is issued to a minor 14 to 17 years old allowing them to operate a motor vehicle with parental permission during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
#9: If a minor under 16 years old commits a second violation, the permit will be revoked until the minor's 16th birthday or 90 days, whichever is longer.
#10: At 16 years of age, traffic violations will not cause a suspension or revocation of the Instruction Permit or the Restricted Minor's Permit. Violation of the restrictions of the permit will cause a 30-day suspension.