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South Dakota Drivers Education

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If you want to drive in South Dakota, you need to get the right driver’s education. Driver’s ed teaches you how to be safe on the road so that you don’t make mistakes that could negatively influence your ability to drive in the future or lead to a serious collision.

Driver’s education can be scheduled online, while other testing options may be available locally as well. Here is a little bit more information on what you should know if you’re getting ready to drive for the first time.

Testing and Preparing to Drive

South Dakota is unique because you do not need an instruction permit to take driver’s ed or to drive with your driver’s ed instructor. Instead, you need to meet other requirements, which include that you need to be at least 14, have to pass a written exam, need to pass your vision test and must have residency and identification documents available.

Perhaps more importantly, you can actually skip the written test for your permit if you take driver’s education and complete it before you apply to take the test. You’ll need to pass the classroom and driving sections of your driver’s education course with a score of at least 80%.

When you are ready, you can get your provisional license.

Provisional Driver’s License and Driver’s License

To get your provisional license as a part of the graduated drivers licensing program, you will need to:

  • Be at least 14 years old for the learner’s permit/minor restricted permit
  • Be at least 16 years old to get your operator’s license

The graduated driver licensing program starts with the instruction permit for supervised driving. The next step is your restricted minor’s permit, and the last is getting your operator’s license. You need to hold your instruction permit for 275 days before you can get your restricted permit unless you take a driver’s education course. If so, the wait is reduced to 180 days.

South Dakota Safety Council Defensive Driving Courses

The South Dakota Safety Council offers a community-based defensive driving course. The Defensive Driving Course, which was developed by the National Safety Council, is designed to teach students about techniques that will help them reduce the likelihood of crashes and traffic violations. These courses are taught by certified instructors and could be ordered by the court after a serious offense.

With a defensive driving course, there actually is not any behind-the-wheel training. The program lasts only four hours for those taking the course a second time. It’s a total of eight hours for all others.

Motorcycle Rider Education in South Dakota

There are additional courses available for motorcyclists. Motorcycle rider education classes are offered between April and October that teach people to prepare for their licensing tests. The program gives the test at the end, so students can easily move forward to get their motorcycle licensing when appropriate.

Last Verified:
Sep 19, 2022