Understanding the South Dakota Graduated Driver’s License Program
South Dakota designed their GDL program to decrease the number of teens who are involved in fatal crashes. However, our state allows teens to drive at an earlier age than most other states and doesn’t impose some of the most common restrictions. Still, the program affords new drivers at least two years to develop and practice the skills that will help them stay safe on the road.
You can apply to begin the program when you turn 14 by completing the vision and knowledge tests required for an instruction permit. Any driver under 18 must hold this permit for at least 180 days before moving to the next step in the program. If you have completed a certified driver’s education course, you will only have to hold the permit for 90 days before moving to the next step. Be aware, if you let your permit expire, you must test for a new one and again hold it for 180 days (or 90 with driver’s ed.)
While you have this permit, you can drive after 6:00 a.m. and before 10:00 p.m. if a driving supervisor is with you. This person must hold a valid driver’s license, have more than one year of driving experience, and be at least 18-year-old.
If you need to drive at night after 10:00 p.m. and before 6:00 a.m., your parent or legal guardian must occupy the front passenger seat.
After holding the permit for the required amount of time, you can apply for a restricted minor’s permit by passing the knowledge, vision, and driving tests, if you have not been convicted of a driving violation for the prior six months.
The restricted permit is for drivers between the ages of 14 and 17 and is valid for five years. While holding this permit, you are prohibited from driving at night after 10 p.m. unless your parent is beside you in the front seat. This permit does not require you to have a driving supervisor during the daylight hours between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
When you turn 18, the permit will convert to an unrestricted operator’s license. However, you can apply for an operator’s license when you turn 16 years old provided you have fulfilled the requirements of the instruction permit, pass the vision, knowledge, and driving tests, and have no traffic convictions for at least the six months before application.