Driver Licensing: Frequently Asked Questions

 

You can apply for a license at any South Dakota Driver Exam location across the state. Applications for new commercial driver’s licenses or for non-citizens cannot be accepted at county or state offices and must be made at a state exam station. For questions contact us or call​​​​​​ (605) 773-6883.

To earn your driver’s license, you must:

  • Complete a license application form
  • Provide the $28 application fee
  • Bring your required documents
  • Have your photo taken by an examiner 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 a drive test appointment at certain exam station locations.

See the required documents section to learn about the forms of identification, and proof of residence documents you’ll need.

Your driver's license is valid for five years and will expire on your birthday or 30 days after your 21st birthday if you’re under 21. You may renew your license any time up to 180 days before it expires (excluding applicants who are turning 21). To renew, you can apply online or renew by mail to avoid waiting in line. If you need to come to a licensing location, you can schedule an appointment at the Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, Rapid City or Watertown Driver Licensing locations. Make sure you have all of the required documents with you.

You may be able to apply for a duplicate or replacement license online or by mail if you have not previously done so in the last ten years. You’ll need proof of your identity, date of birth and lawful status, proof of your Social Security number, and two documents in your name less than one year old that prove your physical South Dakota address. Read more about required documents. If you cannot meet the requirements for online renewal, you will need to visit a Driver Licensing location.

You’ll need to show an examiner your divorce decree, marriage license or other legal documents showing your name has changed. If you no longer have your driver’s license in your possession, you’ll need to provide the required documents to prove your identity and proof of South Dakota residence.

 

You’ll need to appear in person at a South Dakota Driver Licensing location, provide your expired license and two documents in your name and less than one year old proving your physical South Dakota address. If you have lost your license, see required documents. You will need succesfully complete a knowledge test, pay a renewal fee, have your vision tested and your picture taken. If visiting the Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, Rapid City or Watertown Driver Licensing location, you can make an appointment online to avoid the wait and get your license faster.

If you fail the knowledge test or driving skills test, you’re allowed to retake it on a different day. You can retake the tests up to three combined times when you submit your application and fees. If you don’t pass after three attempts or you re-apply after six months, you must pay the fee again.

If you fail your vision screening, no further testing will happen until we receive a statement from your optometrist or ophthalmologist.

You must be at least 14 years old and pass specific vision, knowledge and motorcycle driving tests at a Driver Licensing location. If you’re under 18, you must also complete the requirements of the instruction permit. Learn about getting a motorcycle license and motorcycle safety courses to help you pass your test.

You may renew your license up to 180 days before expiration.  If you are turning 21, you aren't able to renew before your birthday, but can renew up to 30 days after your birthday.

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. 

To check the status of your online or by-mail renewal, email us  or call (605) 773-6883.

Are you a new driver?   Learn how to pass a driver's license test.

View more driver licensing information

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