How to Get a South Carolina Driver's Permit

South Carolina is a state that relies on a graduated driver’s license program to keep young drivers safe. This program requires all new drivers to begin driving with a learner’s permit, in order to practice safe driving under supervision before getting their full driver’s license. To receive the initial learner’s permit, you must follow certain steps. Here is a simple guide to getting a South Carolina driver’s instruction permit:

Beginner’s permit

Drivers who are at least 15 years old may apply for a driver’s permit, called a beginner’s permit. There are several restrictions that a person must follow when using a beginner’s permit. While driving with this permit, drivers must be accompanied at all times by a driver who is at least 21 years old, and has had a valid driver’s license for at least one year, any time they are driving between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight.

Driving between midnight and 6 a.m. is only allowed if the driver’s parent or guardian is supervising. During this time, the driver must log 40 hours of driving practice while under supervision, ten of which must take place at night. There is driver’s education course required to obtain a beginner’s permit. In order to move on to the next level (the conditional driver’s license), any driver who is under 17 years old when they are ready to apply must have completed a driver’s education course that consists of at least eight hours of classroom time and six hours of hands-on training.

How to apply

In order to apply for a beginner’s permit in South Carolina, a driver must bring the following documents to the DMV when they take their written exam:

  • A completed application

  • Proof of identity and date of birth, such as a birth certificate or valid passport

  • Proof of Social Security number, such as a Social Security card or a W-2 form

  • Proof of South Carolina residency, such as a student ID card or a report card

They must also take a vision test, and pay the required $2.50 fee.

Passing the exam

Those who are applying for a beginner’s permit must take a written exam, which covers all state-specific traffic laws, road signs, and other driver’s safety information. The South Carolina DMV provides a driver’s manual which includes all the information that student drivers need to pass the written exam. The state also provides an online practice exam, in which potential drivers can use to gain the practice and confidence they need to ace the exam.

Drivers are required to hold a beginner’s permit for at least 180 days before they may apply for the conditional driver’s license, which allows drivers to operate a vehicle without supervision during restricted hours of the day. If the driver is under 17 years old when they are ready to apply for a license, they must have completed a state-approved driver’s education course.


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