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 go to 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’s education class has been successfully completed. With your instruction permit, you will need to drive under the supervision of a licensed adult from 6:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
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. Drive tests must be scheduled in some locations. 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.
To get your full operator’s license you must:
- Meet all conditions of the instruction permit
- Have driven conviction-free for six months
- Be at least 16 years old
- Have your parent or guardian’s written approval
Learn more 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 an individual under 16 is convicted of a traffic violation or a violation of the restricted hours, the permit or driving privilege will be suspended for 30 days. If that person commits a second violation, the permit will be suspended until the minor's 16th birthday or 90 days, whichever is longer.
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 permit will be suspended as required by law. At 16 years of age, traffic violations will not cause an automatic suspension or revocation of the Instruction Permit or the Restricted Minor's Permit. Other penalties may apply depending on the offense.
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).
- 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 Drivers Documents
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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.