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.

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 180 days or 90 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 scheduled.  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, other than immediate family or household members, for the first 6 months driving on a restricted minor's permit.  After 6 months, you may carry 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 six 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.


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.



Teen Driving Links

  • Road Ready Teens: Helps teens make a safe transition from the passenger’s seat to the driver’s seat with safety tips and an online driving game.
  • Alive at 25: A classroom-based defensive driving course designed for those under age 25.
  • AAA Keys to Drive: Online resources for parents and teens on supervised driving.
  • Teen Driver Brochure: Information about getting your South Dakota instruction permit and driver’s license.
  • Road Ready Teens Parent Guide: A parent or guardian’s guide to safely help teens learn to drive.


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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