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Frequently Asked Questions - South Dakota Teen Driver

When applying for an instruction permit or driver’s license, you will need to do the following:

• Fill out the Driver License Application form. Your parent or guardian must co-sign the form if you are under 18.

• Fill out the “Consent for Use of South Dakota Address” form if you are living with another person. That person must sign the form and present two residency documents.

• If you travel full-time and are using a South Dakota mail forwarding address, fill out the “Residency Affidavit” and submit one document verifying the temporary South Dakota address.

• You must pay the appropriate fee with cash or personal check only. Credit and debit cards are not accepted.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety recommends that parents and teens review the privileges and responsibilities associated with driving. A parent/teen agreement should cover the following issues:

• Weekday and weekend curfew hours
• Safety belt usage
• Use of alcohol and drugs while driving
• Crashes, tickets or violations
• Number of passengers in the vehicle
• Attendance, conduct and effort in school
• Car phone, music and food

The agreement should outline the consequences for breaking the rules. Parents should promise to be available for supervised driving on a regular basis.

Before applying for a learner’s permit, you should study the South Dakota Driver License Manual, which covers some of the following topics:

• The Driver License
• South Dakota Point System
• Before You Drive
• Rules of the Road
• Safe Driving Tips
• Sharing the Road With Large Trucks and Buses
• Be in Shape to Drive
• Emergencies

The manual can be found online at the South Dakota Department of Public Safety website or at any local driver exam station.

Before applying for a Restricted Minor’s Permit, you must complete a state-approved driver’s education program, which includes the following:

• Classroom training focusing on defensive driving, alcohol safety, drug abuse awareness and motorcycle awareness.

• In-car training sessions will include actual time behind the wheel and periods of observation.

Driver’s education courses are offered through public and private school programs. The Certificate of Completion must be signed by a parent or legal guardian if you are under 18.

What tests must I pass?
The State of South Dakota requires drivers to pass the following tests:

Written Knowledge Test
• The written knowledge test consists of questions about the basic rules of the road and how to safely operate a motor vehicle. You must correctly at least 20 of the 25 questions in order to pass the test.

Vision Test
• You must be able to pass the vision test with an acuity of at least 20/40 with both eyes, but no worse than 20/50 in either eye. If your acuity is less than 20/40 in both eyes, with or without using corrective lenses, you will be referred to an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist who must complete a Vision Statement.

Driving Test
• The driver license examiner will be checking to make sure the vehicle has current registration and liability insurance. You will be asked to perform the following driving maneuvers:

1. Perform safe left and right hand turns
2. Perform a three-point turn
3. Proper signaling when changing lanes and parking
4. Lane usage, right-of-way, intersection approach and overall vehicle control
5. Backing of vehicle and making quick stops
6. Parallel parking

• You must score at least 80 points out of 100 in order to pass the test. Pets or passengers are not allowed in the vehicle during the test.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety has the following requirements for obtaining an Instruction Permit:

Instruction Permit
• You must be at least 14 years old.
• Your parent or guardian must sign the application if you are under 18 years old.
• You must be able to pass a written knowledge test and vision test.
• You must pay the Instruction Permit fee of $8 in cash or personal check.

The Instruction permit is valid for one year from the date it was issued.

Restricted Minor’s Permit
• You must be between 14 and 18 years old.
• You must have held an Instruction Permit for at least six months or three months if you have completed an approved driver education course.
• You must not have had any traffic violations within the last six months.
• You must be able to pass the driver’s license road test.

The Restricted Minor’s Permit can be changed to an Operator’s License once you turn 16, providing that you have not had any traffic violations within the last six months. The Restricted Minor’s Permit is valid for five years and will automatically convert to an Operator’s License when you turn 18.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety requires applicants to provide proof of identity, residency and Social Security number by submitting the following documents:

Proof of Identity (Must prove identity, date of birth and lawful status)
• Certified United States birth certificate issued by state or county (hospital-issued birth certificates are not acceptable)
• Valid unexpired United States passport
• Certificate of Naturalization
• Certificate of Citizenship
• Valid unexpired permanent resident card
• Valid unexpired employment authorization document
• Foreign passport with valid unexpired United States Visa with I-94

Name Change Documents
• Certified marriage certificate issued by a state vital records agency
• Certified adoption document
• Certified court order authorizing name change, such as a divorce decree

Social Security Number (Must include the full number)
• Social Security card
• W-2 form
• Social Security Administration (SSA) 1099 form
• Non-SSA 1099 form
• Pay stub with name and Social Security number

Proof of South Dakota Residency—Two Documents (Must contain your full name and current address. Parent’s proof of address is acceptable for a minor child. P.O. box addresses are acceptable in areas not assigned a street address or 911 address.)
• Utility bill
• Credit card statement
• Pay stub or earnings statement
• Rent receipt
• Phone bill
• Transcript or report card from an accredited school
• Bank statement
• Mortgage document
• Tax document
• Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy
• Other items with your address may be reviewed by Driver Licensing personnel

If you are living at a facility or an organization, you can submit a letter from the facility or organization on their letterhead stating that you reside there.

To obtain an Operator’s License in South Dakota, applicants must meet the following requirements:

• You must be at least 16 years old.
• You must not have had any traffic violations within the last six months.
• You must complete all the requirements of the Instruction Permit.
• You must be able to pass the driving test.
• You must pay the license fee of $20 in cash or personal check.

The Operator’s License is valid for five years or until the expiration date on the legal presence documents, whichever occurs first.

The State of South Dakota has the following restrictions for permit holders:

Instruction Permit Restrictions
• You must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is 18 or older who has held a license for at least one year when driving between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. The licensed driver must be seated in the front passenger seat next to you at all times.

• You must be accompanied by your parent or guardian when driving between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. The parent or guardian must be seated in the front passenger seat next to you at all times.

Restricted Minor’s Permit
• You must be accompanied by your parent or guardian when driving between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. The parent or guardian must be seated in the front passenger seat next to you at all times.

All drivers in South Dakota are required to have proof of financial responsibility. The minimum amount of liability insurance required is as follows:

• $25,000 bodily injury or death of one person in one accident
• $50,000 bodily injury or death of more than one person in one accident
• $25,000 property damage in one accident

You are also required to carry $25,000/$50,000 of uninsured and underinsured bodily injury protection.