Driving in South Carolina as a teenager as in most states is seen as a rite of passage, from adolescence into adulthood. This rite of passage however is now a graduated privilege, to ensure that drivers are experienced before given the full rights of a complete license.
Driving Under 18 Years Old
Learners Permit, 15 years old
At 15 years old in South Carolina you can get your first driving permit that only allows you to drive with a licensed adult over 21 years old that has at least 1 year of driving experience and only between 6am and midnight. In order to get the Learner Permit you will need an application signed by a parent or guardian, provide proof of citizenship and residency as well as show your Social Security number, as well as passing the vision and knowledge tests for the permit. There is also a nominal fee for the permit.
In order to get a Provisional license you need to complete supervised driving and have a signed affidavit from a parent or guardian attesting to it. You will also need to complete state approved and accredited driver’s education to move on to a Provisional license.
Provisional License, 15 years and 180 days old
In as little as six months you could be driving by yourself as a teenager in South Carolina as long as you follow the guidelines of the GDL program. After you get a Learner Permit, you will need to complete 40 hours of behind the wheel driving with at least 10 of them being done at night. You will also be required to show proof of enrolment in school. A road skills test must also be passed. Your certificate of completion and achievement of a driver’s education course will also be required as well as your parent or guardian’s signature on your application.
This license allows you to drive between 6am and 6pm (8pm during daylight savings time) without another driver. You may only transport 2 or less passengers under the age of 21 that are not family members. Between 6pm and midnight, you can drive with another licensed adult that is 21 years or older. Between midnight and 6am you can only drive with your licensed parent or guardian.
Special Restricted License, 16 years old
At 16 years old, assuming you have no traffic violations, you can apply to the DMV with a statement of purpose from your guardian or employer in order to waive the night time driving restrictions. This license will allow you to travel to and from work, school or religious function as outlined in your statement of purpose without a licensed driver during night time hours.
Full License, 17 years old
If you have a special restricted license for at least 1 year before turning 17 years old, you will automatically receive a full South Carolina driver’s license. If you are under 18 years old, you will still need to have your parent or legal guardian to come with you to receive the full license and sign the application.
Adult Drivers & Out of State
Adult driver’s over 17 years of age, must still hold the Learner Permit for 180 days before scheduling the road skills test in order to obtain a full license. Adults are not required to take driver’s education, but must hold the learner permit for a minimum of 180 days in order to get a full license. You must still pass vision, knowledge and road skills driving tests.
Out of state residents have 90 days to switch over their licenses upon moving to South Carolina. If your license has expired more than 9 months, from any state, you will need to follow the adult licensing procedure described above. Those moving to South Carolina from another country will need to see if their country has driving reciprocity with the state. This can be found on their DMV website. Otherwise you will be required to follow the adult licensing requirements of the state.