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South Dakota
Driving Written Test!

About the South Dakota DOR Written Test

The South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) does not administer vehicle or driver licensing programs for South Dakota. There is a specific Dakota Department of Public Safety Office of Driver Licensing responsible for South Dakota driver’s licenses and learner’s permits. This division of the South Dakota DMV is also responsible for traffic violations, suspensions and revocations.

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New South Dakota Drivers License

Who Needs a License?

Anyone living permanently in the state of South Dakota must have a valid license: in order to operate a person vehicle on roadways. If you wish to work for a living in a field that requires driving, you must have a valid commercial license. Other special vehicle types will also require a specific license. Obtain a driver’s license at any Department of Public Safety office. License types in the state include:

  • The Graduated License Program offers teen’s addition driving practice to help prepare them for safe driving. This includes and instructional permit, minor’s permit and restricted license.
  • The operator’s license is available to residents wishing to driver a personal vehicle for daily use.
  • Those wishing to drive a motorcycle must apply for a motorcycle license, starting with a motorcycle permit. A moped license is also available at the DMV.
  • Driving for a living within the state requires a Class A, B or C commercial license to be obtained.

What are the Requirements for getting a License?

Each individual applying for new license will be required to supply a minimum of 4 documents to the DPS during the application process. The amount may be more if the applicant has undergone a name change at any point since birth. Documentation is used to prove the following:

  • One document proving identity which will include full legal name, date of birth and lawful presence in the US. Documentation will be required in addition to this if the applicants name has changed at any time since birth.
  • One document providing a valid social security number to the state. While this is usually done with a signed social security card other alternative forms of documentation may be accepted from the approved list online at the DMV website.
  • Two documents proving residency in the state that will provide the DMV with a permanent mail address. Minors may provide two parental forms of residency proof if they cannot provide two in their name. Those living with someone else that cannot prove residency may use a ‘Consent for Use of a South Dakota Address’ form and two proofs of residency provided by the person they are living with.
  • The $20 license fee will be required in the form of cash, check or money order and a photo must be taken at the end of processing.

What Tests do I need to get a License?

The state requires three separate tests to be passed in order to receive your license:

  • A vision screening is administered to all new driver’s license and permit applicants of any class, as well as renewal applicants.
  • A written test gauges the new driver’s abilities to understand traffic laws and rules of the road, as well as recognized street signs.
  • The road test will determine if the new driver has practiced enough to proper maneuver a vehicle on roadways and if they are obeying required traffic rules and laws.

Taking a Drivers Education Course

Completing a driver’s education course will reduce the required practice drive time from 180 days to 90 days. Successful completion of the course will require documentation presented before taking the drivers test in order to qualify for the time reduction.

Preparing for the Written Test

Preparation for the written test should include obtaining the materials necessary to learn the rules of the road, traffic laws and commonly found road signs within the state. This can be accomplished through the DPS Drivers Manual, or through cheat sheets found online at In addition, you will find many practice tests generated with similar test questions to what you can expect on the actual written test. Use your materials to learn the information and then practice tests as a gauge for your progress.

Scheduling an Appointment

Depending on the county in which you reside you may be required to make an appointment for specific activities at the DMV. This may include young driver permit applications, driving tests and renewals. You must visit the DMV website to determine if you are required to make an appointment for your county.

What to Bring on Test Day

On test day, all applicants will need to bring their four required documents proving identity, legal presence in the US, social security number and two proofs of residency. In addition, any documentation proving a name change will be required. If you cannot provide the two residency proofs you may use either a parents two proofs if a minor or have the person who owns the home complete ‘Consent to Use a South Dakota Address’ form and provide two proofs of residency in that persons name. You must also be prepared with a check, cash or money order to pay the $20 license fee.

Costs of a Drivers Test

A fee of $20 will be due at the time the applicant takes the written tests as part of the licensing process.

Taking the Written Test

In order to pass the written test you must correctly answer 20 out of 25 multiple choice questions. The test questions will be concerning the traffic laws, rules of the road and traffic signs found in the state.

It is essential that the applicant takes time to study before attempting the test if they wish to pass on the first try. Failure will result in added time and costs to the license process. Obtain a copy of the Drivers Manual from the DMV, as well as cheat sheets and practice tests found online that contain the valuable materials necessary to pass the written test.

Taking the Driving Test

The driving test will be taken after the applicant has passed the vision and written tests and provided the approved documents necessary to the state. Applicants must make an appointment for the test and provide a vehicle to use for the exam. The vehicle must be properly registered and have insurance which must be presented before the exam can begin. In addition, the vehicle must be able to pass a safety inspection to be allowed for use in testing.

Renewing your South Dakota Drivers License

Who needs to renew their license?

All residents of the state wishing to continue operating a motor vehicle must renew their license once every five years.

How do I renew my South Dakota License?

Online renewals are permitting once in a ten year period if the driver meets qualifications though a vision screening will still be required. For in person renewals in specific counties you must make an appointment to renew.

What tests do I need to take to renew?

All renewal applicants must submit a vision screening whether in person at the DMV or through a physician in advance. Online and mail-in renewals still need to complete a vision screening.

If your license is expired at the time of renewal, you may be asked to retake the written test portion of licensing.

Preparing to renew my South Dakota license

If your license has not yet been upgrading to the new license system, you will be required to gather four proofs to bring on the day of renewal. These include one proof of identity and lawful presence, one proof of a valid social security number and two proofs of a permanent residency in the state. If your license is expired at the time you intend to renew, you need to study your cheat sheets to prepare for a retake of the written test. Remember to bring any corrective eyewear worn when renewing to pass the vision screening.

What is the cost to renew my license?

The cost to renew a license will be $25 plus $10 for any additional endorsements.

Steps to renew your license

If you are required to apply in-person, renew at any DMV branch. Bring with you any requirement documents such as:

  • Your required documents proving identity, lawful presence, social security number and residency

Once you arrive, fill out the renewal form and submit with your required proofs if applicable and retake the vision screening. If your license is expired when you surrender it, you must the retake the written test and pass with 20 correct answers out of 25. A new photo will be taken and you will be required to pay the $25 renewal fee by check, cash or money order.

Online renewals are allowed once in a ten year period if the driver qualifies. You must submit a document stating you have passed a vision screening through a physician’s office and follow the online prompts to complete the process. The online renewal service can be found online at the DPS website. Fees must be paid by credit or debit card for online renewals only.

Getting a South Dakota Learners Permit

Who needs a learners permit?

New drivers that are at least 14 years of age may apply for a learners permit after meeting specific requirements and with written parental consent to begin the license process.

Requirements for getting a learners permit

New learners permit applicants must supply the DPS with at least four documents to satisfy the new requirements that will include:

  • One proof of identity showing full legal name, date of birth and lawful presence in the US.
  • One document proving a valid social security number using either a signed social security card or an alternative document from the approved list online at the DMV website.
  • Two proofs of legal residency in the state that will provide the DMV with a permanent address. Minors may prove residency using two documents in their parents name if they reside in the home.
  • Minors are required to bring a parent or guardian the day of application that will provide written consent allowing the minor to obtain a learners permit.
  • All permit applicants must pass a vision screening and written knowledge test with 20 correct answers out of 25.

Driving with a South Dakota learners permit

New drivers are allowed to practice between the hours of 6am and 10pm on roadways as long as they are accompanied by a licensed adult over the age of 21 at all times. You must drive with the permit for 180 days or 90 days with proof of successful completion of a driver’s education course. Once you have completed these requirements, additional practice will be completed with your restricted drivers permit, moving towards your first driver’s license.

Cost of a learners permit

You will be required to pay the $20 license fee at the time of application for a learners permit with a check, cash or money order.

Steps to getting a South Dakota learners permit

To receive a learner’s permit, apply in person at your local DPS branch. Your county may require you to make an appointment in advance. In addition, minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian that will give written permission for the teen to receive a learner’s permit. Once at the DPS you will be required to:

  • Complete a driver’s license application and have a parent sign if applicable.
  • Submit your proof of identity including full legal name, date of birth and lawful presence in the US.
  • Provide documentation showing a valid social security card and two forms of residency proof.
  • Minors may submit a parent’s residency proof if applicable and those living with another person must supply consent to Use a South Dakota Address form along with two of the person’s proof of residency.
  • Drivers must then pass a vision screening and written test.
  • Once the tests have been passed, pay the $20 license fees by check, cash or money order and take a photograph.
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