south-carolina-road-signExcited about getting your driver’s license in South Carolina, but you feel a bit confused about how to get started? If you want to become a fully licensed driver, you will need to learn as much as you can about each stage of the process, from preparing for the permit test, applying for your Beginner’s Permit, and finally earning your Regular Driver’s License.

Like most other states, South Carolina requires that all young drivers complete a Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL), a multi-stage process that allows you time to learn crucial driving skills while remaining in a supervised environment.

In South Carolina, the GDL process includes three stages:

  • Beginner’s Permit
  • Conditional Driver’s License
  • Regular Driver’s License

In this article, we will walk you through how to pass the South Carolina permit test and go on to earn unrestricted driving privileges.

Learner’s Permit

When you are 15 years old, you can apply for your Beginner’s Permit (or learner’s permit) in South Carolina. This requires that you pass a written knowledge test (permit test) that will check how well you know the rules of the road, traffic signs, traffic signals and other important factors.

Study, Study, Study

Your first step toward becoming a licensed driver is to learn everything you can about traffic law. We offer a free copy of the South Carolina Driver’s Manual for you to use in your studies. Be sure to read the entire book, and spend extra time on any subjects you are confused about.

Make Sure to Take Practice Exams

Your next step is to check your preparedness by taking some practice tests. Our South Carolina practice permit test is one of the best resources for study because it includes much of the same information you will find on the actual exam. After passing it a few times, you should feel confident enough to attempt the real thing.

Visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Offices and Take Your Tests

When you feel prepared, visit the DMV offices, bringing along:

  • Your completed permit application (Form MV93), signed by your parent or guardian.
  • Your certified birth certificate, Social Security card or other identifying information.
  • Proof of residency (school enrollment card, utility bill or other acceptable document).
  • $4.50 in fees.

At this point, you will take the multiple-choice permit test. Relax and do your best. If you studied hard, none of the questions should prove to be difficult for you.

When you pass, you will be given a vision test to make sure you can see well enough to drive. If you wear contacts or glasses, make sure to bring them along too.

Time to Get to Practicing

The state of South Carolina requires that all permit holders complete a total of 40 hours of practice driving under the supervision of a licensed parent or guardian. Of those hours, 10 must take place at night.

If you would like to move on to the next stage of the GDL process before the age of 17, you must also enroll in driver’s education at this time. Your chosen course must be approved by the state and needs to include eight hours of classroom education and six hours of behind-the-wheel training. If you would like to skip this course, you will have to wait until age 17 to apply for your Conditional Driver’s License.

Conditional Driver’s License

When you have held your permit for at least 180 days, you have completed a driver’s education course (if necessary), you have completed your practice driving and you are enrolled in school, you qualify to apply for your Conditional Driver’s License. When you feel ready, make an appointment with the DMV to take the road test.

On test day, bring along:

  • The same identification and residency documents you used before.
  • Your PDLA form that shows you completed driver’s education (if younger than 17) and finished your practice driving. It must also show that you are enrolled in school, a requirement to drive as a teen in South Carolina.
  • A completed application with a signature from your parent or guardian.
  • Up to $30 in fees (will vary depending on your age and whether you are getting a five or 10 year license).

Now, you will be given the behind-the-wheel road test and another vision exam. The road test should be very easy as long as you have been practicing. Try not to get too nervous and you are sure to do well.

When you pass your second vision exam, you will be given your Conditional License. It comes with a few limitations. Unless accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older, you cannot:

  • Drive between 6 p.m. (8 p.m. during Daylight Savings Time) and 6 a.m.
  • Drive after midnight unless your licensed supervisor is a parent or guardian.
  • Drive with more than two passengers under the age of 21, unless those passengers are family members or you are transporting students to school.

Driver’s License

When you are at least 17 years old and have completed the other stages of the GDL process, you can apply for your Regular License. This will require that you complete another vision and behind-the-wheel road test. At this point, passing the road test should be easy since you’ve done it once before. Be sure to bring along your permit. You will need to turn it in so that you can be given your full license.

Congratulations! You are now an unrestricted driver.’

Additional Information

When you are at least 16 years old, you have the option of applying for the Special Restricted Driver’s License, which is just like the Conditional License except you will be allowed to drive alone at night for the purposes of school or work. You will need two separate statements of permission from your parents and a letterhead notification from your workplace or school to receive this allowance.