Driving Tests

Though it might be stressful, if you’re well prepared, passing your driving test can be a piece of cake. Look below for testing requirements for each type of South Dakota Driver’s License, then download driving manuals to start studying.

You can apply for a license at any South Dakota Driver Licensing location across the state unless you are applying for a first-time commercial driver’s license or are a non-U.S. citizen. New commercial drivers and non-U.S. citizens must apply at a state Driver Licensing location. For questions, email us or call (605) 773-6883.

Drivers must furnish their own vehicles for road tests, and pets or passengers are not allowed in the vehicle. We recommend that you do not bring children or pets, as they aren’t allowed in the testing area, and you’ll be able to focus on passing your exam.

 

Getting a Driver’s License

To earn your driver’s license, you must:

  • Have a completed license application form
  • Bring a $28 application fee
  • Bring your required documents
  • Have a photo taken at a Driver Licensing location
  • Pass a vision test. If you wear glasses or contacts during the test, you’ll be required to wear them while driving. If you do not pass the test, you must present a statement from an optometrist or ophthalmologist certifying that you possess the visual ability to drive safely before continuing the exam.
  • Pass a knowledge test with a score of 80% or higher. This test will cover rules of the road and safe-driving practices. Download a driving manual.
  • Pass a driving test with a score of 80% or higher. During this test, you must demonstrate your ability to safely operate a vehicle and perform normal driving tasks. You may be required to schedule an appointment in certain testing locations.

See the South Dakota graduated licensing system for information on driving requirements for teens.

 

Getting a Motorcycle License

To learn to operate your motorcycle, you may apply for an instruction permit by completing the vision test and knowledge test. The permit is valid for one year and allows the driver to operate a motorcycle between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

To get a South Dakota Motorcycle License, you must:

  • Have a completed license application form
  • Bring your required documents
  • Pass a vision test. If you wear glasses or contacts during the test, you’ll be required to wear them while driving. If you do not pass the test, you must present a statement from an optometrist or ophthalmologist certifying that you possess the visual ability to drive safely before continuing the exam.
  • Pass a knowledge test with a score of 80% or higher. This test will cover rules of the road and safe-driving practices. Download a motorcycle driving manual.
  • Pass a motorcycle driving test. You will need to bring your own motorcycle for the driving test.  During this test, you must demonstrate your ability to safely operate a motorcycle with normal driving tasks. You may be required to schedule an appointment in certain testing locations.

Please wear appropriate safety gear for your test including a helmet, boots and leathers. The pavement must be dry to conduct a motorcycle driving test.

You can sign up for motorcycle safety classes to help you prepare for and pass your test. The South Dakota Safety Council offers classes from April through October and will also administer the license test as the final step of the course.

 

Commercial Driver’s License Test

To qualify for your South Dakota CDL, you’ll need to have a qualifying South Dakota Driver’s License along with:

If you have recent experience driving large trucks in the military, you may be eligible to obtain a CDL without a driving skills test by completing a military waiver.

 

Unsuccessful Examinations

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 practice. You are allowed three opportunities to test for each fee paid within a six-month period.

If a drive test applicant commits any of the following infractions, they must wait 30 days before another driving test will be administered:

  • Car accident on driving test (unless the tester is not at fault)
  • Poor car control
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Failure to yield to a car or pedestrian
  • Running a stop light or stop sign
  • Excessive speeding
  • Turning into an oncoming lane of traffic
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Any action that puts citizens’ or an examiner’s safety at risk

 

License Restrictions

An operator license may be issued subject to certain restrictions. For example, a person who cannot see clearly with their right eye could be restricted to driving a vehicle with a left outside rearview mirror. Other restrictions could include:

  • (A) Automatic transmission (formerly E)
  • (B) Corrective lenses (formerly O)
  • (C) Specially equipped vehicle (formerly Z)
  • (F) Left outside rearview mirror
  • (G) No night driving
  • (I) No driving outside of town (formerly Q)
  • (R) Restricted permit (6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.)
  • (Y) 50-mile radius of residents (formerly X)

Those with a CDL may be subject to additional commercial driver's license restrictions.

 

South Dakota Driver's License

Renew Your License Online, Not in Line

Time to renew? Don't spend time in line - renew your license online or by mail. You can also schedule an appointment for a faster trip to your local driver exam station. Review a list of required documents to make sure you have the identification you need. 

Are you a new driver? 

Learn how to pass a driver's license test.

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