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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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 South Carolina.

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 South Carolina 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 S.C. 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 South Carolina 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 South Carolina. A copy of the Sex Offender Registry Law is available upon request.

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Conditional License for 15 Year Old Drivers

If you are 15 years old and have 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. 

To get a Conditional License:

  • Bring your parent or legally appointed guardian with you to sign your application.
  • Bring your beginner's permit.
  • Submit Form PDLA pursuant to SC Code of Law 56-1-176 that certifies you have:
    • Completed a driver's education course
    • 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.

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. 

  • You must pass the vision and road skills tests. You must wait two weeks to re-test if you fail the skills test on the 1st or 2nd attempt to pass. 
  • You must wait 60 days if you fail on the 3rd or subsequent attempt before being re-tested.

 

Driving Restrictions:

  • You may drive alone during daylight hours from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. (or 8 p.m. during daylight savings time).
  • From 6 p.m. (or 8 p.m. during daylight savings time) until midnight, you may drive if a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age accompanies you.
  • Between midnight and 6 a.m., you may drive if your licensed parent or legally appointed guardian accompanies you.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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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Special Restricted License for 16 Year Old Drivers

If you are 16 years old 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.

To get a Special Restricted License you must:

  • Bring your parent or legally appointed guardian with you to sign your application.
  • Bring your beginner's permit.
  • Submit DMV Form PDLA, pursuant to SC Code of Law 56-1-176 that certifies you:
    • Completed a driver's education course 
    • Are currently enrolled in school (not suspended or expelled) and have had satisfactory school attendance
    • Practiced driving with your licensed parent or legally appointed guardian for 40 hours, including 10 hours of driving practice at night.

Form PDLA allows you to submit all of these certifications. This forms will be provided to you upon successful completion of a driver's education course from your high school driving instructor or driver training school instructor. 

  • You must pass the vision and road skills tests.
  • You must wait two-weeks to retest if you fail the skills test on the 1st or 2nd attempt to pass.
  • You must wait 60 days if you fail on the 3rd or subsequent attempt before being retested.

Driving Restrictions:

  • You may drive alone during daylight hours from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. (or 8 p.m. during daylight savings time).
  • From 6 p.m. (or 8 p.m. during daylight savings time) until midnight, you may drive if a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age accompanies.
  • Between midnight and 6 a.m., you may drive if your licensed parent or legally appointed guardian accompanies you.
  • 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.

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.

 

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 of the purpose for the waiver from your parent or legally appointed guardian
  2. A statement of the purpose for the waiver on letterhead from your employer, school official, church official or sports official.

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

 

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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Regular Driver License for Drivers 17 Years Old and Older

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.  To get a Regular Driver's License:

  • If you are under 18 years of age and have never been licensed, you must bring your parent or legally appointed guardian with you to sign your application.
  • If you are 18 years old or older, you do not need the signature of your parent or legal guardian.
  • You must bring your beginner's permit.
  • You must pass the vision and road skills tests.

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.

If You are Under 18 Years of Age:

  • You must bring your parent or legally appointed guardian with you to sign your application.
  • You must bring your beginner's permit.
  • You must submit Form PDLA that certifies you have:
    • Completed a driver's education course (eight hours classroom and six hours behind the wheel)
    • Had satisfactory school attendance
    • Practiced driving with your licensed parent or guardian for 40 hours, including 10 hours of driving practice at night.

Form PDLA allows you to submit all of these certifications and will be provided to you upon successful completion of a driver's education course from your high school driving instructor or your driver training school instructor.

  • You must pass the vision and road skills tests.

If You are 18 Years of Age or Older:

  • You must bring your beginner's permit.
  • You must pass the vision and road skills tests.

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

Effective November 2009, 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. Please note that only SCDMV offices that offer commercial driver testing can administer a motorcycle skills test with a side car. For a list of office locations, click here.

 

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. 

 

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

 

 

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Driver Skills Tests in DMV Offices

SCDMV branch offices administer road tests for Class D, E and F licenses in the rain as long as the applicant has visibility using an intermittent or low windshield wiper speed.

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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 Class E or F skills test, these tests must be taken at one of the 35 SCDMV field offices that offer commercial driver license testing.

 

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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