South Dakota Permit Requirements

When applying for a South Dakota driver permit with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, it is important to know the permit requirements.  Make sure you have the met the DPS requirements, and that you have the necessary documents.

Teens new to driving in South Dakota need to satisfy the DPS requirements before they can earn a permit that will allow them driving privileges.  South Dakota has one of the earliest driving ages of any state.  Teens must be at least 14 years old in order to apply for an instructional permit in South Dakota. You will also need the written permission of your sponsor, who can be your parent or legal guardian.

South Dakota Permit Required Documents

When you arrive at the exam station to apply for your permit, you will have to bring along some documents:

  • A completed permit application https://dps.sd.gov/licensing/driver_licensing/documents/DLAPP6-27-13_000.pdf
  • An acceptable form of identification like your original birth certificate or passport
  • Social Security Card
  • Two documents that provide proof of address This can be in the form of official mail, utilities bill, mortgage or rental agreement addressed to your parents if you are a minor.
  • Written permission from your sponsor in person, so bring your parent or guardian.

The fee for the instructional permit is $20.  Applicants must also pass a vision test and written knowledge test at the exam station when applying for a permit.

Passing the South Dakota Written Test

You must pass a knowledge test in order to earn your permit. The written test has 25 questions, all of which are multiple choice. You will pass the test if you answer at least 20 correctly. You can re-take the test the next day if you fail on your first attempt. After 3 attempts in a 6 month period, applicants will be required to repay the testing fee.

South Dakota Permit Rules and Regulations

Once you have earned your permit, you will be allowed to drive under certain conditions. You should always have your permit with you when you are driving. You can only drive during the day (6 AM-10 PM) if you are accompanied by a person aged 18 or older who has at least one year of driving experience. If you are driving at night (10 PM-6 AM), then you will need to have a parent or legal guardian with you in the car.

The Next Steps for your South Dakota Permit.

The instructional permit is valid for one year. You will need to hold the permit for at least 180 continuous days before you can apply for a Restricted Minor's Permit.  However, this time is reduced to 90 days if you successfully complete a state-approved driver's education course. You must pass the driving test to receive your Restricted Minor's Permit, which is then valid for five years.  No practice hours are required in South Dakota to advance to a minor’s permit.

The Restricted Minor’s Permit allows drivers to operate a motor vehicle unsupervised between 6 AM and 10 PM, or after 10 with a guardian in the car.  All cell phone use while driving, even with a hands-free device, is prohibited. 

You can convert this permit into a full Operator's License when you reach the age of 16. You can only do this by mail if you have no traffic violations on your record within the last six months.