How to Get a Driver’s License in South Dakota

Going to the DMV to receive a driver’s license for the first time is an exciting event. However, it can also be extremely nerve-wracking for those that are unprepared. Fortunately, there are a couple of routes young South Dakota drivers can take in order to prepare themselves for the road and obtain their license.

License Requirements

Regardless of whether you are a teen hoping to obtain your first driver’s license or are a new resident that needs to replace your old license with a South Dakota driver’s license, you will be required to provide your Social Security number as well as show proof of identity and residency when applying.

For proof of identity, one of the following documents will suffice:

• Valid U.S. passport
• Certified copy of birth certificate
• Approved tribal identification card
• Certificate of Citizenship
• Certificate of Naturalization
• Valid unexpired employment authorization document
• Valid unexpired permanent resident card
• Foreign passport with valid unexpired U.S. Visa and an I-94

You must also provide two documents that show your residential address to prove that you are a South Dakota resident. For minors, a parent or legal guardian’s proof of address will be accepted. Any two of the documents listed below will satisfy this requirement:

• Utility bill
• Phone bill
• Mortgage document
• Rent receipt
• Bank statement
• Earnings statement or pay stub
• Credit card statement
• Report card or transcript from an accredited school
• Tax document

If you cannot provide any two of the above forms of proof of residency, you may be able to receive an exception by calling 1-800-952-3696.

New residents with an out-of-state license must only bring these documents with them in order to receive a South Dakota driver’s license. Teens receiving their first driver’s license, however, must first obtain an instruction permit and be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at the exam station. For the driving test, proof of insurance will also be required to prove financial responsibility in the event of an accident.

Licensing Costs

In South Dakota, the costs of receiving a driver’s permit and license are rather minimal. The following fees represent the current fee structure:

• Written exam for receipt of instruction permit – $8
• Driving test for receipt of restricted minor’s permit – $20
• Driver’s license – $20
• Driver’s license renewals – $20

License Process

Upon completing the driver license application, you must take a vision and knowledge test in order to be granted an instruction permit. For the vision test, you must have a visual acuity of 20/40 or better for both eyes, and any single eye cannot have a visual acuity worse than 20/50. After passing the vision test, you must take the written knowledge exam, which consists of questions formulated from the material found in the state’s driver’s manual. The manual can be found online or obtained at any exam station for study prior to taking the test.

If you pass both tests, you will be granted an instruction permit that is valid for one year, which allows you to start driving and perfect your road skills. However, you must be accompanied by someone at least 18 years of age with one year or more of driving experience. You will also only be allowed to drive between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day of the week. You must have the permit for at least 180 days and not have any traffic violations in order to be eligible for a non-restricted driver’s license when you turn 16, at which time you will be required to pass the driving test.

After 180 days, drivers that are still under the age of 16 can take the driving test to receive a restricted minor’s permit, which has fewer restrictions than an instruction permit. With a restricted minor’s permit, you can drive by yourself between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. with parental consent. After you turn 16, and if you have not had a traffic violation during the previous six months, you can convert the permit into a driver’s license simply by visiting the exam station and paying the fee. At the exam station, you will receive a temporary license while you wait to receive your driver’s license in the mail.

In South Dakota, driver’s licenses are only valid for five years. Rather than having to take the knowledge and driving tests again, you simply need to pass the vision exam when renewing your license.

Driver’s Practice Test

Taking and passing the written knowledge test the first time is often more difficult than many people suspect. In fact, even seasoned drivers have difficulty passing the exam from time to time. However, with a little study and practice, you will be able to confidently pass the test the first time around.

As mentioned earlier, all of the exam questions are based on material found inside the South Dakota Driver’s Manual. After studying the manual, you can test your knowledge by taking a practice test or two. Driver’s license practice tests prepare you for the questions you can expect to see on the written knowledge test, allowing you to master the content and pass the exam the very first time.

Take Free Practice Test Now

South Dakota DMV Practice Test – Quiz 1 (Signs)
South Dakota DMV Practice Test – Quiz 2 (Signs)
South Dakota DMV Practice Test – Quiz 3 (Rules)
South Dakota DMV Practice Test – Quiz 4 (Rules)
South Dakota DMV Practice Test – Quiz 5 (Rules)
South Dakota DMV Practice Test – Quiz 6 (Rules)
South Dakota DMV Practice Test – Quiz 7 (Rules)