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Frequently Asked Questions - South Carolina Teen Driver

A beginner’s permit allows a learning driver to:

• Drive with a licensed driver who is 21 years old or older, with one or more years of driving experience, who is sitting in the front seat beside you, between the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight, or
• Drive a motorcycle or other two wheel motor driven vehicle from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., or until 8 p.m. during daylight savings time.

Applicants who have received their beginner’s permits must hold them 180 days before they may apply for their license. During that time, they should practice driving as much as possible. Those who will be receiving a Conditional or Special Restricted License must successfully complete a driver’s education course that includes eight hours of classroom time and six hours of driving time. In addition, applicants must have a minimum of 40 hours practice with a licensed driver, including 10 hours of night practice.

The first step in becoming a licensed driver in South Carolina is getting a beginner’s permit. While this is not difficult, it does require that applicants meet certain minimum standards when they apply. These requirements are that applicants:

• Must be at least 15 years old
• Must be able to pass a vision test
• Must be able to pass a written knowledge exam
• Applicants under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian sign their application, as well.

Once applicants arrive at the DMV office, they must fill out an application for the permit or license they are seeking. They will present this application, along with the required documents for proof of identity, social security number and residency, along with a $2.00 testing fee to the testing officer. Upon passing the written test, applicants will need to pay $2.50 for their beginner’s permits.

Anyone holding a valid beginner’s permit may drive when accompanied by a parent or other validly licensed person over the age of 21. Those holding a valid conditional license or a special restricted license may drive after midnight with a licensed parent or guardian.

All applicants for a beginner’s permit must pass a vision test. Applicants who wear corrective lenses must wear them at all times when driving.

A written exam will test the applicant’s knowledge of traffic laws, signs and markings, and is necessary to receive a beginner’s permit. Studying the South Carolina driver’s manual and taking practice tests, like those found at www.feedmvpracticetests.com, will help the applicant pass this exam.

Prior to receiving a driver’s license, applicants must also pass a road test, which will test the driver’s skill. Applicants should get as much practical experience as possible before attempting the road test.

When applying for a beginner’s permit or for a driver’s license, applicants will need proof of identity and residency. For those who are United States citizens, the following documents are necessary:

• A birth certificate issued by:

• The county of birth or by the Bureau of Vital Statistics
• Any U.S. territory
• A current passport or one that has been expired less than ten years
• An original USCIS form N-550 or N-570 Certificate of Naturalization
• A Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Government, or
• A certificate of U.S. Citizenship, form N-560 or N-561,

• Proof of the applicant’s social security number

Documents that are acceptable for this include:

• Applicant’s original social security card
• A letter from the Social Security Administration, including Medicare letters
• A payroll stub or W-2 form with the names of both the employer and applicant
• A current military Identification Card, with photo, for active duty, retired or reservist status OR a current military dependant ID card, or
• A Survivor Benefit Form SSA-1099, and

• Proof of South Carolina Residency

Acceptable documents include:

• School records from a South Carolina school for the current or previous school year, including:
• Certified transcripts
• High school diploma (if applicant has graduated at end of prior school year)
• A letter from the applicant’s school or school district on the appropriate letterhead
• If applicant is home schooled, a letter or contract from the Home Schooling Association
• Report card
• Student ID card
• A tuition bill with a physical South Carolina address

For a more complete list of acceptable documents, or for requirements for non-US citizens, please check the South Carolina Driver’s Manual.

Applicants must also present proof of insurance, including the insurance company’s name and telephone number, and the policy number. Applicants who do not own a vehicle and who do not live with a relative with a vehicle must indicate this on their application.

New drivers should be aware that there are restrictions to their new license, depending on the type issued. Those with a conditional license may drive alone between the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8 p.m. during daylight savings time). However, the following restrictions apply:

• Between 6 p.m. and midnight, a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old must accompany the driver.
• After midnight, a licensed parent or guardian must accompany the driver.
• Driver cannot transport more than two passengers under the age of 21 unless accompanied by an adult who is at least 21. The exception to this is when transporting family members or students to and from school.

For those with a special restricted license, the following restrictions apply:

• Between 6 p.m. and midnight, a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old must accompany the driver.
• After midnight, a licensed parent or guardian must accompany the driver.
• Driver cannot transport more than two passengers under the age of 21 unless accompanied by an adult who is at least 21. The exception to this is when transporting family members or students to and from school.
• Time limits may be waived if they interfere with driver’s job or school; proof of this must be submitted to the DMV in the form of:

• A statement from the driver’s parent or guardian and
• A statement from the driver’s school or employer giving the reason for the waiver
This waiver will not allow the driver to drive after midnight.

A final note: drivers who hold a special restricted license or a conditional license may apply for full driving privileges when they are 16 if they have held their license for one year and have no traffic offenses or at-fault accidents.

All drivers who have not held a license before must first apply for and hold a beginner’s permit for 180 days. Teens may apply for their beginner’s permit at the age 15, and then for a conditional license after 180 days, but before their 16th birthday.

Those who are at least 16 but less than 17, and who have held their beginner’s permit for 180 days, or who have a conditional license, may apply for a special restricted license.

A regular driver’s license may be issued to those who are at least 17 and who have held a beginner’s permit for at least 180 days.