South Dakota DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you’re preparing to apply for your South Dakota state driver’s license, then the first order of business is to make sure you pass your written knowledge test as soon as possible. All of the information covered by the test can be found in the South Dakota Driver’s Handbook, so make sure you study it thoroughly. You can also greatly increase your chances of passing on the first try by taking a good practice test beforehand. The following FAQ can assist you even further in anticipating what to expect from the process of dealing with the DMV.
What age do I need to be before I can qualify for my South Dakota learner’s permit?
In South Dakota, you must be a minimum of 14 years of age before you can apply for your learner’s permit. Once you have your permit, you can go ahead and begin learning to drive under supervision according to state rules.
Does South Dakota have a graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) program in place? What are the various stages I should be aware of?
Yes. Like many U.S. states, South Dakota does have a graduated driver’s licensing program. All drivers under the age of 18 are expected to proceed through all of the various stages before they can be granted full adult driving privileges. The stages are as follows.
  • First, you’ll apply for and receive your instruction permit which allows you to drive under supervision only.
  • Second, you’ll earn a restricted minor’s permit which allows you to drive unsupervised, but with certain restrictions in place.
  • Lastly, you’ll receive your operator’s license complete with full rights and privileges
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What documents do I need to bring with me to the DMV when I arrive to apply for my South Dakota license?
Everyone will be expected to prove basic information before being granted driving privileges in South Dakota. Make sure that you bring:
  • Government recognised proof of your identity and date of birth. Appropriate examples include a valid U.S. passport, a certified copy of your U.S. birth certificate, of a certificate of citizenship.
  • Proof of your social security number, such as your social security card or a W-2.
  • Two proofs of your residency in the state of South Dakota, such as a rental agreement, a bank statement, or a utility bill. (If you are a minor, your parents can provide proof.)
  • If you are not sure whether or not a given document will be deemed acceptable as proof of one of the above, contact a rep at your local DMV field office to make sure.
    I’m a minor applying for my license. Do I need to bring my parents with me?
    Your parents should bring you to the DMV when you’re ready to apply for your permit. They will be required to sign your application, as well as provide state recognized proof of your residency in South Dakota if you do not possess proper documents in your own name.
    Do I need to take a physical in order to qualify for my driving privileges?
    No. Some states require drivers to submit to and pass a full physical before they’ll be allowed to acquire or maintain driving privileges. However, physicals are not required in South Dakota. You will need to pass a vision test though, so make sure you bring any prescription eyewear you require when you arrive to apply.
    Once I get my learner’s permit, what criteria will I need to meet before I can have my license?
    New drivers that have just qualified for their South Dakota learner’s permit will need to hold their permit for a minimum of 180 days before they can qualify for their driver’s license. (If you took a state-approved driver’s education course, then the requirement is reduced to 90 days instead.) Your learner’s permit cannot have expired and you may not have accumulated any traffic violations within the previous 6 months.
    What criteria does my supervising driver need to meet in order to ride with me while I have my learner’s permit?
    When driving under your instructional permit, you are only allowed to drive between the hours of 6AM and 10PM. You are also only allowed to drive while under supervision. Your supervising driver must:
  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Have at least one full year of driving experience.
  • Be sitting next to you in the passenger seat at all times.
  • If you wish to drive between the hours of 10PM and 6AM, you may do so only if accompanied by your parents or legal guardian.
    How do I upgrade my restricted minor’s license to an operator’s license complete with full privileges?
    In order to successfully upgrade your license, you need to be of age. You must also bring the following with you to the DMV field office in order to complete the process.
  • Your parent or legal guardian, as they will need to give their permission if you are a minor.
  • Your restricted license, as you’ll be expected to surrender it.
  • Two separate documents proving that you are a South Dakota resident. (If you do not have these, your parent or guardian can provide them for you.)
  • Cash, check, or money order to cover the appropriate licensing fees.
  • I’m new to South Dakota. How do I transfer my out-of-state driver’s license?
    If you are new to the state, then you will need to apply for transfer of your driving privileges in person at a DMV field office. Make sure you bring:
  • A parent or guardian, if you are under the age of 18.
  • Proof of your identity, date of birth, and lawful presence in the United States.
  • Proof of your social security number.
  • Two documents that verify your South Dakota residency.
  • Payment for the state’s licensing fees. All payments must be made in cash, by check, or by money order. Make sure you check with the DMV in regards to exact fees ahead of time so that you can be sure of arriving with the proper amounts.
  • You will also need to pass a vision test and possibly a driving skills test if it is deemed necessary.
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