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South Dakota Graduated License Program - SD Graduated Drivers License Requirements

South Dakota Graduated License

South Dakota has its own version of a graduated drivers license law that, although differs from similar programs in other states, contains the same essentials and aims at achieving the same goals. The South Dakota graduated license program was developed to address the issue of the high mortality rate among teenage drivers. Due to the regulations that are part of the South Dakota graduate driver's license program, teenage drivers have to follow a different application procedure when attempting to receive a drivers license. Drivers ed classes play an important role in the program and, although the state does not make taking a class mandatory, teenagers are strongly encouraged to do so.

Although the graduated license program is a complex combination of laws, restrictions and procedures, they all serve one purpose - to allow teen drivers enough time to slowly submerge into the world of driving and to be able to gain the essential driving experience in a relatively safe driving environment. Experience is virtually everything when it comes to driving, it allows you to predict and avoid dangerous on-road situations and to take correct actions should such situation arise. Unfortunately, experience is one thing you cannot learn in the classroom, you have to get behind the wheel and start driving. In order to make your first days and months behind the wheel safe, the South Dakota Division of Motor Vehicles conducted a number of studies that reveal the most common causes of traffic accidents and implemented a number of restrictions and procedures that are there to discourage your from participating in those dangerous activities. These measures significantly lower your chances of being hurt in a traffic accident during your first months of driving.

You may be asking yourself a question why does the South Dakota graduated license system apply only to teenage drivers and not every first time drivers license applicant? If the graduated license program is all about gaining driving experience, shouldn't everyone have to go through it?

This is a good question and in an ideal world, everyone should have to go through this program before they are issued with a South Dakota drivers license. However, according to statistics, teenage drivers are much more likely to be injured in a traffic accident than an older driver. In fact, vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens ages 16-19, due to the fact that teenagers frequently take risks and ignore safety precautions, such as wearing a seat belt. Since the issue of teenage mortality is a pressing one, the graduated license program was developed specifically for teenage drivers.

Graduated Drivers License Steps

In order to allow teenage drivers license applicants enough time for gaining the essential driving experience before they hit the road alone, the licensing procedure is divided into a number of steps of phases. Each phase of the process teaches the applicant a certain set of skills and graduation to the next phase is not possible until you can prove that you learned these skills. At the moment, the graduated license system in South Dakota has the following stages:

  1. Instructional permit
  2. Restricted minor's permit
  3. Operator's license

If you are at least 18 years of age, the graduated license rules do not apply for you, however you must still submit to the same examination procedures as any teenager. Before you can be issued with a drivers license, the DMV requires you to pass both the South Dakota permit test and a drivers test. If you want to see what the permit test is like, you may try yourself with a South Dakota permit practice test that covers the same subjects as the real exam.

Instructional Permit

Instruction permit, also called a South Dakota learners permit, is the first document that allows you to get behind the wheel and start your driving practice. The minimum age for applying for a permit is 14 and you will have to take a vision exam and the permit test before you can be issued with one. Once you receive a learners permit, you can start your driving practice, however you must make sure to observe the following South Dakota permit restrictions:

  • Supervised driving only. You cannot drive alone and must have a licensed driver at least 18 years of age with not less than one years of driving experience seated next to you at all times.
  • Curfew. Driving is only allowed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • No cell phones. You cannot use a cell phone or any other communication device while driving.
  • Seat belts. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt.

Usually, you have to hold a learners permit for at least 180 days before you can apply for a restricted drivers permit. However, should you choose to take South Dakota drivers education course and get a score of at least 80% on both the classroom and the driving portion of the class, the holding period can be reduced to 90 days.

During this holding period, you cannot have any moving violations. If you receive a violation, the holding period gets extended for another six months. Two many violations will see you lose your driving privilege.

Restricted Minor's Permit

Once you fulfill the requirements of the first step of the graduated drivers license program, you become eligible for a restricted minor's permit. The purpose of this permit is very similar to functions that are usually attributed to restricted minor licenses in other states. The restricted permit allows you to start driving without a supervising driver, provided you observe certain restrictions. You must also take a South Dakota DMV drivers test in order to become eligible for this permit.

The following restrictions apply to this permit:

  • Curfew. No driving without supervision between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. If you need to drive during these hours, you must have a licensed driver at least 18 years of age with not less than 1 year of driving experience accompany you.
  • Seat belts. Safety belts must be worn by everyone in the vehicle.
  • No cell phones. You cannot use a cell phone or any other communication device while driving

Once you reach the age of 16 years, you can upgrade your restricted permit to an operator driver's license.

Operator's License

The operator's license is the final step of the South Dakota graduated drivers license program and it grants you unlimited driving privileges. You have to be at least 16 years of age and fulfill the requirements for both the learners permit and the restricted permit before you can become eligible for this type of a permit. You can read more about each stage of the GDL program in the South Dakota driver handbook.

Safe and ticket-free driving is an important part of the graduated license program. Failure to observe the graduated license restrictions or too many tickets for moving violations will see your driving privilege suspended or canceled.