At 16 years old in South Dakota you could have a full operator license allowing you to drive unrestricted. However this is only available if you go through the states Graduated licensing program like all states in the US. These programs teach teen drivers safe driving practices and offer them behind the wheel training that has been proven to lower teenager driving fatalities.
Licenses Under 18 Years Old
Instruction Permit, 14 years old
This permit is first available to South Dakotans at the age of 14, but they are able to get it until they are 18 years old. This permit allows teenagers the ability to drive while accompanied by an adult licensed driver over 21 years of age and with at least 1 year of driving experience during the day time. Only a parent or guardian can drive with a teen with this permit at night. To obtain this permit, simply visit a local DMV office with a parent or guardian that can approve the license application, pass written and vision tests and receive your permit.
This license must be held for 180 days if no driver’s education courses are taken by the permit holder. After 180 days you may apply for a Restricted Minor Permit without having taken driver’s ed. If you do take a state approved driver’s education course and pass with an 80%, B or better, you can receive your next license in just 90 days. South Dakota does not require an amount of behind-the-wheel driving experience like many other states.
Restricted Minor License, 14 years and 3 months old
A restricted or Provisional license as it is called in many states at 14 years and 3 months is the youngest possible age in any state to be able to drive unsupervised that is not a farm permit. South Dakota youth have a rare opportunity at privilege compared to many other states. In order to obtain this license at this age, you must have taken and passed a state-approved driver’s education course. Passing this course also exempts you from the driving skills or road skills test by the DMV if it was taken and passed within the last year.
If you do not take a driver’s ed course, you will need to wait 180 days after getting your Instruction Permit and take a road skills test. With this license you can drive unsupervised from 6am to 10pm with your parent or guardian’s permission. From 10pm to 6am you must drive only with a parent or guardian in the passenger seat next to you with this license.
Full Operator License, 16 years old
However, even though you may get a restricted license at 14 years and 3 months old, you will have to wait almost 2 years to receive a full operator license as this is the earliest age to receive an operator license in South Dakota. You must have no traffic violations within the last 6 months (for each stage), written approval from a parent or guardian and have met the conditions of the previous two stages and are between the ages of 16-18 years old. This license has no restrictions.
Adult Drivers & Out of State
As an adult 18 years or older in South Dakota you can take test directly for a full operator license without having to get an instruction or restricted license first. As long as you pass the vision, knowledge and road skills tests, you will get a full license immediately in South Dakota.
Within 90 days of moving to South Dakota you must hand in your previous state’s license for a South Dakota license. You will need to provide proof of residency and citizenship and take a vision test in order to gain a South Dakota license.