Initial Driver License

Types of Identification Accepted by DMV

Review our Accepted Forms of Identification for obtaining an initial driver license or identification card.

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Graduated Driver License Program

The graduated driver license program is designed for minors 15 to 17 years of age. It allows them the opportunity to develop their skills of operating a motor vehicle.  It restricts nighttime and unsupervised driving during the initial stages, but lifts these restrictions over time.

 

Conditional License for 15 Year Old Drivers

If you are at least 15 ½ years old and less than 16 years of age and held a beginner's permit for at least 180 days, you are eligible for a conditional license. Application may be made on the 181st day for a Conditional License. 

 

You will obtain full driving privileges when you are 16 if you have had your license for one year and have no traffic offenses or been involved in any at-fault accidents. If you are under the age of 17 and accrue six or more points on your record before you have held your license for one year, your license will be suspended for six months. 

 

Special Restricted License for 16 Year Old Drivers

If you are 16 years old and less than 17 years of age and have held your beginner's permit for at least 180 days and passed the vision and skills tests, or have a conditional license, you are eligible for a special restricted license.

You will obtain full driving privileges when you are 17 if you have had your special restricted license for one year and have no traffic offenses or been involved in any at-fault accidents. If you are under the age of 17 and accrue six or more points on your record before you have held your license for one year, your license will be suspended for six months.

 

DRIVING RESTRICTIONS for CONDITIONAL and

SPECIAL RESTRICTED LICENSES

From this time

Until this time

Conditional and Special Restricted License holders are allowed to drive as follows

6:00 AM

6:00 PM (8:00 PM during DST)

You may drive alone during daylight hours only

6 PM (8 PM during DST)

Midnight

You may drive only if accompanied by a licensed driver who is 21 years of age or older

Midnight

6 AM

You may only drive if accompanied by your licensed parent or legally appointed guardian

DST = Daylight Savings Time (summer time)

You cannot transport more than two passengers under the age of 21 unless you are accompanied by a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old.  The only exception is if you are transporting family members or students to and from school.

 

Special Restricted Waiver of Time Restrictions:

If the time limitations for a special restricted driver license cause problems for you at your job, school, church or sports activity they can be waived. You must prove to the department that they interfere with your job, education, church, sports or travel between home, school, vocational training, church, sports or employment opportunities by submitting two separate statements:

  1. A statement from your parent or legally appointed guardian requesting the time restrictions be waived and providing the purpose for the waiver. 

  2. A statement on letterhead from your employer, school official, church official or sports official providing the purpose for the waiver.

    Both statements must give the reason for the waiver.  The fee for the waiver is $12.50.

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Requirements To Get A License For The First Time

All applicants

All applicants must fulfill these requirements

·       Held a beginner’s permit for 180 days

·       Bring your beginner's permit to the DMV on the 181st day or later.

·       Pass the vision and road skills tests.

o    If you fail the skills test on the 1st or 2nd attempt to pass you must wait two weeks before you are eligible to be re-tested.

 

o    If you fail on the 3rd or subsequent attempt you must wait 60 days before you are eligible to be re-tested.

Applicants 17 years old or younger who are applying for one of these licenses: 

1.   Conditional

2.   Special Restricted

If you are 17 years old or younger you must submit DMV Form PDLA pursuant to SC Code of Law 56-1-176 that certifies you:

·      Completed a driver's education course (eight hours classroom and six hours behind the wheel)

 

·      Are currently enrolled in school (not suspended or expelled) and have satisfactory school attendance

 

·      Practiced driving with your licensed parent or legally appointed guardian for 40 hours, including 10 hours of driving practice at night. Parents/guardians may use this driving log as a tool when supervising their minor's driving practice. 

DMV Form PDLA allows you to submit all three of these certifications. This form will be provided to you by your high school driving instructor or your driver training school instructor when you successfully complete a driver's education course. 

Applicants under 18 years of age 

If you are a minor (under 18 years of age) you must bring your parent or legally appointed guardian with you to sign your application.

Applicants 17 years old and older applying for a regular driver’s license

If you are at least 17 years old and have held a beginner's permit for 180 days, you are eligible for a regular SC Driver's License. 

 

DMV Brochure "Ready for the Road?" (DMVB-35) outlines the above information step by step.  For more information about driver license testing, click here.

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Motorcycle Licenses

If you are 15 years old and have held another class beginner permit for 180 days, you are eligible for a motorcycle beginner's permit by taking the vision test and motorcycle knowledge test. If you have a conditional driver's license, you can get a motorcycle conditional license by taking the vision test, the motorcycle knowledge test and the motorcycle skills test.

 

If you are at least 15 years old and have never had a license or beginner's permit, you must have your motorcycle beginner's permit for at least 180 days before you can apply for a motorcycle license.

 

Motorcycle Helmet Law
South Carolina laws require persons who are under the age of 21 to wear a motorcycle helmet and eye protection while operating a motorcycle.

  • Two-Wheel Motorcycles
    A Class M motorcycle license allows an individual, 15 years of age or older, to operate any type of motorcycle, including: a two-wheel motorcycle, a motorcycle with a side car and a three-wheel motorcycle.

  • Two-Wheel Motorcycles with Side Cars
    Individuals who only want to operate a motorcycle with a side car permanently attached will need a special S3 restriction with their Class M motorcycle license. Operation of a two-wheel motorcycle without a side car attached is prohibited with this restriction. DMV’s Master Examiner will administer the test.  Contact a DMV office for a test to be scheduled and coordinated with DMV’s Master Examiner.

  • Three-Wheel Motorcycles

    Three-wheel motorcycles and automotive three-wheel vehicles may be operated with any class license except a Class G moped license. Special endorsements are no longer required to operate these types of vehicles. 

     

    See the list of requirements above to get a license for the first time.

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For New Residents Licensed in Another State

Military Personnel (and their dependents) and students temporarily in South Carolina are not required to obtain a South Carolina Driver's license. However, you must have a driver's license from your home state to operate in SC.

If you are a new resident, you may use a valid driver's license from your former state for up to 90 days. However, you must convert to a SC driver's license before the end of the 90-day period. If your name has changed since birth, you must provide all legal documents (adoption records, marriage certificate, certificate of naturalization, court ordered name change) supporting all name changes from birth to present. For more information about documents you will need to get a SC license, see Accepted Forms of Identification. If your driver's license from your home state has expired more than nine months, you must also pass the knowledge and road tests in addition to the vision test. To schedule a road test, you should call the DMV office where you would like to take the skills test.

Each qualified driver can have only one driver's license. You may not have a valid license from SC and another state. To qualify for a SC driver's license, you must pass the eye exam given at all DMV offices or submit a statement of visual acuity from an eye care professional. A South Carolina license is valid for ten years and must be renewed by your birthday in the tenth year.

Note that Section 23-3-460 of the SC Code of Laws states that a person who has been convicted anywhere of an offense listed in 23-3-430 must register with the county sheriff within 10 days of establishing residency in SC. A copy of the Sex Offender Registry Law is available upon request.

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Reminder for Motor Home Owners

If you plan to operate a motor home that has a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) that exceeds 26,0000 lbs., you must obtain a Class E license. If you operate any combination of vehicles exclusively used for recreation (example: a motor home and tow a trailer or other vehicle that has a Gross Combination Weight (GCW) that exceeds 26,000 lbs., you must have a Class F license. You may take the Class E and F knowledge tests at any SCDMV field office which provides full driver license services. Due to the space required for a non-commercial Class E or F skills test, these tests must be taken at one of the designated SCDMV field offices that offer this type of skills test. Click here to schedule an appointment for a Class E or F skills test.

 

During the basic skills portion of the Class F test, motor home operators will be allowed to disconnect the towed vehicle. However, the towed vehicle must be reconnected for the road test portion of the skills test. 

 

For more information about Class E and F driver licenses, click here.

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