South Carolina DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you’re planning on applying for your South Carolina driver’s license in the near future, then you are also advised to pick up a copy of the South Carolina Driver’s Handbook and start studying it as soon as possible. In order to obtain your learner’s permit, you’ll need to pass a written knowledge test. All of the information you’ll be tested on is found in the handbook. You may also wish to skim the following FAQ for a crash course in what you can expect from the DMV experience in general.
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How old do I need to be before I can apply for my South Carolina driver’s license?
The age at which a person becomes eligible to apply for a driver’s license varies from state to state. However, in South Carolina you must be at least 15 years of age. At that point, you may take steps to obtain your learner’s permit and begin spending time behind the wheel under supervision.
What documents do I need to bring with me when I arrive to apply for my driver’s license?
As everyone knows, every state’s DMV requires people to bring a collection of important documents with them when applying for their licenses and South Carolina is no exception. You will need:
  • A certified copy of your birth certificate.
  • Your social security card.
  • State-recognized proof of your residency in South Carolina.
  • Insurance information.
I’m a teenager looking to apply for my South Carolina driver’s license. Do I need to bring my parents with me when I arrive to apply?
Yes. If you are under the age of 18, you will need a parent or guardian to be present in order to sign your driver’s license application. Make plans to come on a day when they will be able to accompany you.
Once I get my South Carolina driver’s permit, what’s next?
Once you successfully obtain your learner’s permit, it’s time to start getting some hands-on practice behind the wheel in preparation for your road test. However, the additional requirements you’ll need to consider will depend on how old you are. If you are under the age of 17, you will need to successfully pass a driver’s education course in addition to completing your behind the wheel hours. If you are under 18, you will need to log at least 40 hours of driving under the supervision of an appropriate licensed driver. All new drivers with learner’s permit must have held that permit for a minimum of 180 days before they are eligible to take their road test and get their actual license.
I heard that South Carolina has a GDL program in place. At what ages am I eligible for each stage?
Thanks to extensive research that has proven graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) programs drastically reduce the rate of teen-related collisions, more and more states – South Carolina included – are adopting such programs as official protocol. Such programs require teen drivers to qualify for and meet various milestones on their way to their futures as licensed drivers.
  • At 15 years old, you’re eligible for your learner’s permit.
  • At 15 years and 180 days old, you’re eligible for your provisional driver’s license.
  • At 16 years old, you’re eligible for special restricted licenses (or – if applicable – a regular license with restrictions).
  • At 17 years old, you are eligible for a standard adult license that is free of restrictions.
Is driver’s education a requirement in South Carolina or is it simply a suggestion?
In South Carolina, driver’s education is required for all would-be drivers that are under the age of 17. You do not need to complete a course in order to get your learner’s permit, but you will need to before you will be given an actual driver’s license. In South Carolina, you can expect a standard state approved driver’s ed course to consist of:
  • 8 hours of sit-down classroom instruction.
  • 6 hours of hands-on training behind the wheel.
What restrictions are attached to a South Carolina provisional license?
If you’re a young driver making your way through the South Carolina GDL, you’ll be driving under what is called a provisional license when you first pass your road test. While you are allowed to drive without adult supervision when you have a provisional license, there are still some restrictions you need to be aware of.
  • You can only drive alone between the hours of 6AM and 6PM (or 8PM during daylight savings time).
  • When driving after evening hours end, but before midnight, you may only drive when accompanied by a licensed driver of 21 years old or older.
  • When driving between midnight and 6AM, you are only allowed to drive if accompanied (and supervised) by your parent or legal guardian.
  • If you are under 21 years of age, you are not allowed to carry more than 2 passengers without also being accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old. (Exceptions can be made when transporting members of your immediately family to and from school.)
How does a special restricted license differ from a provisional license?
A South Carolina special restricted license differs from a provisional license in that it allows for the waiving of the above restricted driving times. However, you must be able to show that the restrictions interfere with your abilities to get yourself to or from school or work in order to qualify. If you think you would qualify and would like to apply, have your parent or legal guardian provide you with a statement that confirms the above interference. You will also need an additional statement from your school or your boss that confirms the same thing. It is also important to note that special restricted licenses are alternatives to provisional licenses, so you will still need to meet all of the other requirements necessary to satisfy those rules. You will also need to fulfill all the same requirements a provisional license holder would have to consider before obtaining a full unrestricted driver’s license.
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