Getting a South Carolina Driver’s License: A Complete Guide

Getting a South Carolina Driver’s License: A Complete Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Mar 18, 2021

Getting your driver’s license in the state of South Carolina is an exciting time for drivers of all ages. Like most states, the SCDMV requires teenagers to navigate through the Graduated Drivers License program in order to gradually introduce them to safe driving. While the process can seem complicated for many – it doesn’t have to be. 

In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about getting your driver’s license in the state of South Carolina.

Beginner’s Permit 

You will need to start with a beginner’s permit regardless of your age. You can apply for one when you turn 15.

You will need to pass a vision test and a written test consisting of 30 questions related to traffic laws and road signs in South Carolina, of which you’ll need to answer 24 questions correctly to pass. 

If you are 17 years old or more, you will need to hold your permit for 180 days before moving on to the next license. If you’re younger than 17, you will need to complete a driver’s education course consisting of at least 8 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of driving training, be enrolled in school with satisfactory attendance, and practice driving for a total of 40 hours, of which 10 are at night.

A permit will allow you to:

  • Operate a motor vehicle from 6 am to midnight with a licensed passenger who is 21 years or older
  • Operate a motor vehicle from 6 am to midnight with a parent or legal guardian

If you want to know more about this part of the driver licensing process, we recommend that you read our complete South Carolina beginner’s permit guide.

Conditional Driver’s License

The conditional license is the next step towards getting your full SC driver’s license. Drivers are eligible from age 15 ½ to 16 years of age.

How to Get a Conditional Driver’s License in South Carolina

You are required to pass the South Carolina driving skills test in order to get a conditional driver’s license. The road exam is designed to test your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle in the state of South Carolina. You will need to understand how to perform driving maneuvers such as three-point turns, lane maintenance, left/right turns, and more. Your test administrator will also expect you to know how to use the safety mechanisms that exist within your vehicle. 

On the day of your appointment, you’ll need to again provide the documentation listed above. 

Conditional Driver’s License Restrictions

  • Cannot drive with more than two passengers under 21 unless accompanied by an adult over the age of 21. Exceptions are made for transporting family members or driving with students to or from school
  • May drive alone from 6 am to 6pm, but must be accompanied by licensed adult from midnight to 6am

If you are under 17 and receive six or more points on your records before you have held your license for one year, you will face a six month suspension. Once you have held your license for a year with no traffic offenses or collisions, you will be allowed to upgrade to a full license. 

Special Restricted Driver’s License

The special restricted driver’s license is for those who are 16 years old, but less than 17 and have already held their beginner’s permit. The same restrictions apply for the special restricted driver’s license as the conditional driver’s license, with one exception. A teenager may get a waiver to drive to school or work during the hours of midnight and 6 am. To obtain one, you’ll need to submit two separate letters from a parent, as well as an employer or school official to be submitted to the SCDMV.

Like the conditional driver’s license, you’ll be eligible for your full driver’s license once you’ve held your special restricted driver’s license for a year without a collision or traffic offenses. If you accrue more than six points in a year, you will face a six-month suspension. 

Full South Carolina Driver’s License

If you have gone through the GDL, you will receive your full SC driver’s license in the mail once you turn 17 or you have held your conditional or special restricted driver’s license for at least a year with no traffic offenses or at-fault collisions. No extra visit to the SCDMV is required.

If you are over 17, you’ll be eligible for full driving privileges after you’ve obtained your beginner’s permit and taken the driving skills test.

That’s It!

That’s all you need to know about obtaining a driver’s license in South Carolina! As you can see, it can get a bit complicated, but we made sure to break it down in a way that’s super easy for anyone to understand. If you need any help studying for your upcoming driver exams, Zutobi is the perfect study tool to prepare you with everything you need to know.

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