South Dakota Learner's Permit and Driver’s License

GDL requirements

Full Privilege Minimum Age
Learner Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
Learner Stage: Minimum Duration (Months)
9 months (or 6 months with driver education)
Intermediate Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
14, 9 months (or 14, 6 months with driver education)
Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction
10 PM to 6 AM
Intermediate Stage: Passenger Restrictions (Except Family, Unless Noted)
No passengers the first 6 months. No more than 1 passengers younger than 18 until full unrestricted

How to Get a South Dakota Driver’s License

South Dakota has a Graduated Driver License program, or GDL, that will give you time to learn how to drive in a controlled way. There are three stages to this program, from no South Dakota license to a full license.

Completing the South Dakota GDL takes about a year and half. First you’ll complete a South Dakota DPS approved driver training course, or pass a written test, for your instruction permit. Then, 50 hours of supervised driving for a South Dakota restricted license. Drive with it until you turn 16 and you’ll receive your full South Dakota operator license.

The steps below have the details you’ll need to know in order to get your full, unrestricted license.

Get Your South Dakota Instruction Permit 

You can start the process to get your South Dakota driver’s license at 14 years old. To get ready for driving, you can download the South Dakota Driving Manual and start reading through it. At your local SDDPS location, you’ll need to fill out an application, bring in proof of identity, and pay a fee of $28 by debit card or check.

You will also have to pass a written knowledge test, and a vision exam so be sure to bring any corrective lenses you need.

You will be given an official paper which is your SD instruction permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.

This is the point also where you’ll need to get driving instruction. Taking a driver’s education course cuts 3 months off the time you’re required to drive on your instructor’s permit, taking it from 9 months down to 6. Drivers’ education consists of 30 hours of classroom instruction and 6 behind the wheel.

When you’re ready to enroll in driver education, find a driving school to get started.

You must have your South Dakota instruction permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for a restricted permit. During that time, you’ll need to have 50 hours of driving practice with 10 of those being at night and 10 being in inclement weather. There are also limits to your permit and they are:

  • No use of wireless communication devices of any kind while driving
  • You must be accompanied by a licensed driver, with 12 months of driving experience, that’s at least 18 years old between 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M.
  • From 10:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. a parent or guardian must be in the front passenger seat.

Get Your South Dakota Restricted License 

Receiving your South Dakota restricted license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements:

  • Reach 14 years and 9 months old. Or 14 and 6 months with driver’s ed.
  • Complete the 50 hours of supervised driving – you will have to submit a signed log
  • Obtain permission from your parent or guardian
  • No traffic violations for 6 months

Driving Skills Test: You will be required to pass a driving test with an evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely.

Once you’re ready, you can schedule a driving skills exam at your nearest South Dakota Driver License Exam Station.

Before you take the test, you should check out the Top 10 Automatic Fails on Driver Tests, so you’ll know what not to do on test day.

The application fee for your license is $28.00.

Your South Dakota restricted license will be mailed to you and will have your photograph on it. They take your picture the day you pass your driving skills test. This license will come with the following restrictions:

  • No use of wireless communication devices of any kind while driving
  • You may not have a passenger from outside of your household for the first 6 months
  • You may have one passenger from outside your household after the first 6 months

As you continue to learn how to operate a motor vehicle in different conditions, there are certain hours when your driving will be restricted. You may only drive between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. with a parent or guardian in the front passenger seat.

Get Your South Dakota Unrestricted Operator License 

At a certain point, the state feels that you’ve been able to receive enough supervised driving experience that you can go out on your own. Therefore, once you’ve driven on your restricted license for 6 months, or you turn 16, you’ll be eligible for a full operator’s license. If you’re under 18 you’ll need a parent or guardian’s permission, and you can’t have had any convictions for the last 6 months.

The fee for your full operator’s license is $28

This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated South Dakota license until that one expires. After you renew your license, you will receive your full operator’s license in the mail.

However, honing your S.P.I.D.E.R. Senses™ defensive driving skills is a lifetime experience. Download the DriverZ Virtual Coach to keep practicing. It will also help you keep track of your practice hours when earning your South Dakota restricted license.