Teen Drivers

According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens.  But with the right education, training and parental guidance, we can help smash this trend.  In this section, you’ll find resources for teens who are ready to get behind the wheel.

Changes To Teen Driver Permits
(Effective July 1, 2021)

The changes to teen driver permits and rules brought about by 2020 Senate Bill 113 are currently suspended by Governor Noem until June 30, 2021.  Please review this information carefully and note it will apply to both existing and new learner’s and restricted permit applicants starting July 1, 2021. There is no “grandfathering,” so this applies to all unless they have already upgraded to an unrestricted adult driver’s license. 

Instruction Permits:

  • Must be eligible to upgrade (driven 90 days with driver’s ed or 180 days without driver’s ed on the permit), and have upgraded to a Restricted Permit before 7/1/2021
  • Those not eligible to upgrade to a Restricted Permit before 7/1/2021 will fall under the new instruction permit laws:
            1.  Must drive on the Instruction Permit for 180 days (with driver's ed)
            2.  Must drive on the Instruction Permit for 275 days (without driver's ed)
            3.  Must have a minimum of 50 hours of parent/guardian supervised driving (10 hours at night
                 and 10 hours in inclement weather) to upgrade to a Restricted Permit.  When the driver and
                 parent/guardian return to an exam station to upgrade to a Restricted Permit, the parent will
                 need to sign the “Supervised Driving Statement” affirming the permit holder has completed
                 the required supervised driving. 
    • Use this student driving log to record the hours driven. 
    • Use this affidavit to certify that a minor has completed 50 hours of parent-supervised driving since the issuance of the Learner's Permit.

Restricted Permits:

Restricted Permits not upgraded to Operator licenses before 7/1/2021 will fall under the new regulations:

  • Anyone under 18 must hold a restricted permit for 6 months (and meet all the other requirements) before upgrading to a full operator license.
  • Anyone driving on a Restricted Permit cannot have any passengers outside their immediate family or household for 6 months from the initial permit issuance date. 
  • Anyone who has driven on a Restricted Permit for 6 months or more may only have one passenger outside their immediate family or household.

Operator License:

  • Must be 16 years of age,
  • Have met the requirements of an Instruction Permit (see above),
  • And driven on a Restricted Permit for a minimum of 6 months.

When and how can I get my license?

In South Dakota, you must be at least 14 years of age to obtain an instruction permit.  To get your permit, you and a guardian will need to visit a South Dakota licensing location with a required list of documents.  You’ll then need to take a knowledge test (or have successfully completed a state-approved driver education course*) to get your permit.  You must hold this permit for a minimum of 275 days (or 180 days if an approved driver education class has been successfully completed).  With your instruction permit, you will need to drive under the supervision of a licensed adult at all times.        *Driver education certificates can be used to waive testing for one year from the date of class completion.

After this time period, you can apply for your Restricted Minor's Permit if you have not had any traffic convictions in the last six months.  You must pass a drive test at a driver exam station location or have successfully completed a state-approved driver education course.  All drive tests must be scheduledYou must provide a street-legal (licensed) vehicle for the drive test.

With your restricted license, you will be able to drive unaccompanied from 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.  You may drive with a legal guardian from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.  You may not have any passengers outside of your immediate family or household for the first 6 months from the permit issuance date.  After driving on a restricted permit for 6 months, you may carry only 1 passenger who is not part of your immediate family or household.

To get your full operator’s license, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Meet all conditions of the Instruction Permit
  • Have driven on a Restricted Minor's Permit for at least 6 months
  • Have driven conviction-free for 6 months
  • Have your parent or guardian’s written approval

Learn about South Dakota’s Graduated License Program.


How can I lose my permit or license?

A parent or guardian may cancel your license or permit through a written request.

If you are under 18 years old driving on an instruction or restricted permit and are convicted of a traffic violation or a violation of the restricted hours, your permit or driving privilege will be suspended for 30 days.   If you commit  a second violation, or are convicted of a felony or Class 1 misdemeanor, your permit will be suspended until your 18th birthday or 180 days, whichever is shorter.


Driver Education & Study Tools

In the Driving Manuals section, you can find resources to help you study for your knowledge and skills tests. You’ll also find information on driver education.


Teen Driving Links

Parent Resources & Tips

Teaching your teen to drive can be a stressful time. Follow these tips to help instill solid, safe-driving practices:

Less is More.

  • Though you may want to buy your teen a new car, opt for a choice that’s older, large and solid. These cars can be safer, more reliable and better for learning.
  • Ban your teen from driving with passengers for the first year.

Be a Motivational Coach.

  • Give instructions in real time and check frequently to make sure your teen understands.
  • Point things out as they happen.
  • Act as a co-pilot rather than a taskmaster.
  • Commit to 100 hours of supervised instruction (only two hours per week for a year).

Reinforce Safety.

  • Teach by example; always wear your seatbelt and don’t text and drive.
  • Strongly enforce seatbelt use.
  • Set a driving curfew and limit driving during inclement weather.
  • Teach your teen to drive defensively.
  • Teach your teen the three-second rule to allow space in case of emergency.

Continue to Supervise After Licensing.

  • Schedule driving check-ups once a week with your teen.
  • Continue to limit passengers.
  • Hold them accountable for their actions.
  • Show them the big picture of owning a car, such as teaching about insurance, registration and vehicle maintenance.

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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