How to Get a South Dakota Driver's Permit

The state of South Dakota requires all new drivers under 18 years old to begin driving with an instruction 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 Dakota driver’s instruction permit:

Instruction permit

The instruction permit in South Dakota may only be issued to a driver who is at least 14 years old, and has passed the written exam.

The instruction permit requires that drivers be accompanied at all times by a driver who is at least 18 years old, and has held a valid driver’s license for at least one year. Drivers with the instruction permit may never drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. During this time, the driver must follow one of two paths in order to move on to their restricted minor’s permit:

The first path requires that a driver with an instruction permit hold that permit for at least 180 days, and take a driving test before moving on to the restricted minor’s permit.

The second path requires that a driver with an instruction permit hold that permit for at least 90 days, and take a driver’s education course in which they can scored no less than 80% overall. The driver’s education course must have been taken no more than 12 months before applying for the restricted minor’s permit.

How to apply

In order to apply for an instruction permit in South Dakota, a driver must bring the following documents to the DPS when they take their written exam:

  • A completed application that has been signed by a parent or guardian if the driver is under 18 years old.

  • Proof of identity, such as a valid U.S. passport or a certified birth certificate

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

  • Two documents that prove South Dakota residency, such as a bank statement or a school report card.

They must also take a vision test, and pay the $28 permit exam fee.

Passing the exam

The South Dakota instruction permit exam covers all state-specific traffic laws, road signs, and other driver’s safety information. The South Dakota DPS provides a driver’s manual, which includes all the information that student drivers need to pass the written exam.

After completing the required hours with an instruction permit, drivers may apply for a restricted minor’s permit. In order to apply for this permit, all required documents must be brought again to the local DPS office, when the driver takes their driving test. If they have opted out of the driving test, then they must also bring their certificate of completion from a driver’s education course. This permit is valid for five years, and does not carry a fee. This is the final step before obtaining a full adult driver’s license.


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