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.
- Must be eligible to upgrade (driven 180 days with driver’s ed or 275 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.
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.
- 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 scheduled. You 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 16 years old (at the time of violation) and hold an Instruction or Restricted Permit, you will be subject to these suspensions (as of July 1, 2023):
- For any first Class 2 misdemeanor traffic conviction or a first conviction of a violation of the conditions of any instruction or restricted minor’s permit, you will receive a suspension for 30 days, or as otherwise required by law;
- For a second Class 2 misdemeanor traffic conviction, a second conviction of the conditions of any instruction or restricted minor’s permit, a felony, or any Class 1 misdemeanor traffic conviction, you will receive a suspension for 180 days or until the driver’s 16th birthday, whichever is longer.
If you are under 18 years old (at the time of violation) and are driving prior to the issuance of any permit or license, you will be subject to these suspensions (as of July 1, 2023):
- For any first Class 2 misdemeanor traffic conviction, you will be issued a suspension for 30 days, or as otherwise required by law;
- For a second Class 2 misdemeanor traffic conviction, a felony, or a Class 1 misdemeanor traffic conviction, you will be issued a suspension for 180 days or until the driver’s 16th birthday, whichever is longer.
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
- Alive at 25: A classroom-based defensive driving course designed for those under age 25.
- AAA Teen Driver Safety: Online resources for parents and teens on supervised driving.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Teen Driver Safety information.
- American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) Model Mentor Guide.
- Teen Driver Brochure: Information about getting your South Dakota instruction permit and driver’s license.
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
You may need to download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view files.