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South Carolina Drivers License

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If you are obtaining a driver’s license for the first time in South Carolina, you’ll need to go to a South Carolina DMV in person. You can look up the nearest office here.

Getting a license for the first time

First time getting your driver’s license? Here’s everything you need to know.
Ages 15 to 17
South Carolina has a graduated license program for teens. You begin by applying for a beginner’s permit. To obtain this permit, you’ll have to pass a vision and knowledge test. The beginner’s permit provides an opportunity for you to take a driver education course and to practice driving with an experienced adult licensed driver in the seat next to you. After you’ve had your beginner’s permit for 180 days, you may apply for either a conditional or restricted license if you meet all the following requirements:
  • Completed a state-approved driver education course
  • Are enrolled in school with satisfactory attendance
  • Have practiced driving with a licensed individual listed on the Consent for Minor (SCDMV Form 447-CM) for at least 40 hours, including 10 hours of night driving
You’ll have to pass a road test to obtain your conditional or restricted license. The conditional license is for age 15 and a restricted license is for 16 year olds. The license allows you to drive with the following restrictions:
  • No more than two passengers under 21 in the car with you unless you are with a licensed adult who is at least 21 or unless you are driving family members to school.
  • You may not drive alone from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. (or 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. during daylight savings time). You may drive with a licensed driver 21 and older from 6 pm. (or 8 p.m. DST) until midnight and a licensed individual listed on the Consent for Minor (SCDMV Form 447-CM) from midnight to 6 a.m.
Those with a restricted license (16 to 17) may file for a waiver of the night driving restrictions if they can justify the need through a job or extracurricular activities. If you have no traffic violations, the restricted license will automatically become a regular driver’s license at age 17.
Age 17+
Adult drivers also start out with a beginner’s permit. Bring the following to DMV:
  • Proof of identity, US Citizenship, and date of birth
  • Proof of current, physical SC address (For REAL ID, you will need two proofs of current, physical SC address)
  • Proof of legal name change history (if applicable)
You’ll also have to pass a knowledge and vision test. Once you’ve had your beginner’s permit for six months and completed 40 hours of practice driving, you can apply for a conditional license by passing a road test. The conditional license requires that you drive with a licensed driver between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. After you’ve held both the beginner’s permit and conditional license for a total of one year combined without a traffic violation, you’ll receive a regular license.

Renewing your license

Generally, you can renew your license online or by mail every other renewal. A vision test is required, so if you renew online you must submit a certificate of a vision examination within the last 12 months. You cannot renew online if your license has been expired for more than nine months, if you’re not a US citizen, you can’t pay by credit or debit card, or if you’ve had more than five points on your record within the last two years. If you are renewing by mail, you must complete Renew a Driver’s License by Mail (SCDMV Form DL-63), pay by check or money order, and send to:
SCDMV Alternative Media PO Box 1498 Blythewood, SC 29016-0035

Do you need a Real ID?

Do you have to get a Real ID? Nope. Will you want one? Probably. Starting October 1, 2021, your standard driver’s license will no longer be accepted as proof of identification at airports. You’ll need a passport or a Real ID instead. In some cases, you can obtain one online.

Upgrade your conditional or restricted license

If you currently have a conditional or restricted license, you will receive a regular license in the mail automatically as soon as you qualify.

Replace a lost or stolen license

You may replace your lost or stolen license online once every 12 months. The cost is $10 unless the license is within one year of expiration. Replacement licenses that expire in one year or less are free. You also can replace it at a DMV office. Sources: SCDMV: Driver’s Licenses

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Last Verified:
Jun 14, 2022