Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in South Carolina

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The state of South Carolina offers a variety of benefits for current military service members, their families, and for veterans. These range from extended license renewal durations to special license plates to honor military service.

License and registration tax and fee exemption

South Carolina does not currently offer any sort of tax or fee exemption for licenses or registrations on the part of veterans or military service members. All standard fees and taxes apply, although these vary from one county to another. While fees vary from one location to another, there are some standard fees that might be assessed. A standard passenger car’s registration is $24, for instance. Note that this may not be the case for your county, so you’ll need to check with your county clerk.

With that being said, the state does make accommodations for those deployed outside of the state and in need of renewing their registration. This can be done online for residents of certain counties, including York, Spartanburg, Beaufort, Chester, Darlington, Berkeley, Pickens, Richland, Lexington, Greenville, Charleston and Dorchester. Residents of these counties can renew online here.

For military members who are stationed out of of state, South Carolina offers an extension for license renewal. However, to qualify for this extension, you must have been stationed outside the state for at least 30 days prior to the expiration date on your license. For drivers in this situation, your expired license will be valid as long as you are stationed outside the state. Once you return to South Carolina, you have 60 days to renew it.

Driver’s license veteran designation

In 2012, South Carolina instituted a program that allows veterans to have a designation of their service added to the front of their license plate. This also applies to beginner permits, as well as non-driver identification cards. Doing so costs $1. However, if the license is being renewed or replaced, the renewal/replacement cost will also have to be paid. In order to qualify for this designation, you must have been honorably discharged from the service, and you must provide the county clerk with form DD-214. Note that South Carolina does not extend this to anyone other than veterans themselves, and no other form will be accepted as proof of honorable discharge. It is also important to note that this process cannot be completed online – it must be done at a DMV office in person.

Military honor plates

South Carolina offers a variety of different military honor plates that are available to veterans. These include the following:

  • National Guard
  • National Guard Retirees
  • Marine Corps League
  • Normandy Invasion Survivors
  • Disabled Veterans
  • Purple Heart Recipients
  • US Armed Forces Retirees
  • Ex POWs
  • Medal of Honor Recipients
  • Pearl Harbor Survivors

Note that each military honor plate requires the veteran to supply proof of his or her service. Additionally, there are fees that may apply, but you’ll need to check with your individual county to determine exactly what may pertain to you.

It’s also important to note that many of these tags come with parking privileges, including fee exemptions. For instance, disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and Medal of Honor recipients can park in front of municipal meters without a charge. This does not apply to any other parking areas, though.

Military skills test waiver

If your military experience included driving military vehicles, you may qualify to provide a waiver for the skills test when applying for a CDL (commercial driver license). However, note that the requirements here are stringent, and you can apply to waive the skills test portion. You will still need to complete the knowledge test.

  • You must be either an active military member, or within 90 days of an honorable discharge.

  • You must have a valid SC driver’s license.

  • You cannot have had more than one license in the past two years.

  • You are not eligible if your license has been suspended or revoked for any reason in the previous two years.

  • You must download, complete and submit Form DL-408A CDL Skills Test Waiver Application for Military Personnel, which can be found here.

Driver license renewal while deployed

South Carolina active duty service members do not need to renew their license while on active duty, unless they are stationed within the state. If you are stationed within the state during deployment, follow the standard steps for all drivers. If you are not within the state, your license is good until you return to the state, and then you have 60 days to renew it.

Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration

The state of South Carolina does not require non-resident military members or their qualifying family members (spouses and children) to register their vehicle in the state or obtain a South Carolina license. However, the state does require that you have a valid license and registration from your home state.

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