South Carolina Graduated License Program - SC Graduated Drivers License Requirements
South Carolina is the state that cares dearly about the safety of drivers and this is why it embraced the graduated license laws. The South Carolina graduated drivers license laws target teenage drivers and aim at reducing a number of traffic accidents among drivers under the age of 18. The system utilizes compulsory drivers education classes, extended period and restricted license holding period and a number of additional restrictions to save lives on public roads. The South Carolina graduate drivers license system is a great answer to the lack of driving experience that is common for drivers that belong to this age group.
First of all, let's consider why the graduated drivers license laws are needed. Why not grant every South Carolina drivers license applicant with full driving privileges as soon as the required tests are passed? If the applicant is able to pass the test, doesn't this mean that he is fit to drive and is as good as any other driver out there?
Sadly, passing the tests is not enough to become a good, and what's even more important, a safe driver. You may read the South Carolina drivers handbook and pass the knowledge exam, you may take a few driving lessons and pass the drivers test, but this won't mean that you are a good driver, it just means that you learned the basic driving skills. When it comes to driving, experience is everything. Experience is what allows seasoned drivers to identify and avoid dangerous situations. Experience is what allows these drivers to take correct actions if it is too late to avoid the danger. Experience is what keeps people safe on the road every day. And experience is what young drivers who just got licensed don't have.
So why not apply the same graduate drivers license laws to drivers of all ages? Does it really matter how old is the driver if he or she just got licensed and have the same amount of experience? It turns out that the driver's age makes a big difference. Older drivers usually take steps to counteract this lack of experience - they drive slower, they take more precautions, such as always fastening the seat belt and statistics show us that these steps work - older driver have lower crash rates then their younger counterparts. Statistically, one in every five drivers under the age of 18 has a traffic accident during their first year of driving. Teenagers are more likely to speed, take risks, pack the vehicle up with friends and are much less likely to wear a seatbelt. And the result - traffic accidents is a number one cause of death for people between 15 and 20 years of age.
That's why the South Carolina graduate drivers license laws target only teenage drivers and not every first time drivers license applicant. The measures and precautions dictated by the graduate driver license are justified because statistics show us that since these measures were introduced, the number of traffic accidents that involved teenage drivers decreased dramatically. In out opinion, if the law saves even one life, it's already worth it.
South Carolina Graduated Drivers License Steps
One of the key mechanisms of the graduated driver license system is dividing the licensing procedure into a number of steps or levels. Each level of the graduate license system has its own requirements that must be met before the applicant can proceed to the next stage. Each new level grants the student with additional driving privileges, all the way to a full South Carolina drivers license. At the moment, the graduated drivers license system in South Carolina has the following stages:
- Learners permit (also known as the beginner's permit)
- Conditional drivers license or Special restricted license (the type of the license you get depends on your age)
- Unrestricted drivers license
Please remember that you if you are over the age of 18, these restrictions don't apply to you. However, according to the current law, if you are applying for your first drivers license, you must hold your South Carolina learners permit for at least 180 days before you can apply for a drivers license.
South Carolina Beginners Permit
The minimum age for applying for a beginner's permit is 15. Once you are of the legal age, you can visit one of the Department of Motor Vehicles offices and take a South Carolina learners permit test. The test covers the rules of the road, traffic signs and safe driving techniques. If you want to see what the knowledge test is like, you can take a few South Carolina practice permit tests, they will help you get accustomed to the wording used by the DMV.
When you pass the drivers permit test and get your permit, you can start driving. The main reason why you were granted a learners permit is that you can prepare for your drivers test, the permit does not grant you full driving privileges and comes with a number of permit restrictions. According to the graduated drivers license law, you are not allowed to drive alone. Whenever you are practicing driving, you must have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old, holds a valid drivers license and has at least one year of driving experience, seated next to you. There is also a curfew, a nighttime restriction that prohibits driving between midnight and 6 a.m.
The graduated drivers license law requires you to hold a learners permit for at least 180 days before you can upgrade it to a conditional or special restricted license. During this period, you must complete a DMV approved South Carolina drivers education class and at least 40 hours of supervised driving practice with your parents, with 10 hours being done at night. The state wants you to be extra careful during this period and if you receive traffic violations totaling six or more points, your driving privileges will be suspended for six months.
South Carolina Conditional License
If you satisfy the graduated drivers license requirements of the previous step and pass the South Carolina drivers test, you are graduated to the next level. If you are between 15 and 16 years of age, you are issued with a conditional drivers license. If you are between 16 and 17 years of age, you are granted a special restricted license.
The conditional drivers license allows you to drive unsupervised during the daylight hours, which are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 8p.m. during daylight savings. If you want to drive between 6 p.m. and midnight, you must have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age supervise you. Driving between midnight and 6 a.m. requires presence of a licensed parent or legal guardian.
In addition to the curfew, the South Carolina graduated license law places passenger restriction onto the condition license holders. You are not allowed to carry more than two passenger unless there is a parent or legal guardian present in the vehicle. All immediate family members are exempt from this rule.
Just like with a learners permit, if you accumulate more than six points on your license or are involved in an at-fault traffic accident, your driving privileges are suspended for six months.
If you hold your conditional license for at least six months and you are at least 16 years old, you can be issued with a full drivers license. Just like with a learners permit and condition license, your application will need to be signed by your parents or legal guardians.
South Carolina Special Restricted License
The special restricted license is very similar to the conditional license, but it is issued to drivers between 16 and 17 years of age. You must already fulfill the learners permit requirements and pass the drivers test before you can be granted this type of license.
Under the conditions of the restricted license, you are allowed to drive alone during the daylight hours, which are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. to 8p.m. during daylight savings. If you want to drive between 6 p.m. and midnight, you must have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age supervise you. Driving between midnight and 6 a.m. requires presence of a licensed parent or legal guardian.
There are no passenger restrictions for the special restricted license and the allowed driving hours can be extended up until midnight if the curfew interferes with your employment or school activities. You will need to present two notarized statements to the DMV, one from your parents, stating that they authorize this, and the second one from your school or employer, proving that you do have the need to travel during these hours.
You may lose your driving privileges if you accumulate more than six points for traffic offences within six months. In such cases, your driving privilege is suspended for 180 days.
If you hold the special license for six months and fulfill all other requirements, you can be granted a full unrestricted South Carolina drivers license.
As you can see, the graduated drivers license requirements in South Carolina are very reasonable and work toward one goal - making the roads safer. You can be a part of this goal by following all graduated license requirements and restrictions until you receive a full driver license.