First Driver's License
The graduated driver’s license program is designed for people 15 to 17. It allows you the opportunity to develop your driving skills. It restricts nighttime and unsupervised driving at first, but these restrictions are lifted over time.
You will earn full driving privileges at 17, or after keeping your Conditional or Special Restricted license for one year, if you received no traffic offenses and were not at-fault in any collisions. You will receive a sleeve in the mail from the SCDMV. You must keep your license in this sleeve to take advantage of your full driving privileges. For more information reference SCDMV brochure Ready for the Road? (DMVB-35).
If you're 15 or 16 and applying for your first driver's license, you must complete the Certification of DL Under 18 (SCDMV Form PDLA) and all of the following must be true:
- You have held your beginner's permit for more than 180 days.
- You completed a driver's education course (eight hours in the classroom and six hours driving).
- You are enrolled in school (not suspended or expelled), and you have satisfactory attendance.
- You have practiced driving with your licensed parent or legal guardian for at least 40 hours, including ten hours of night driving.
You will receive the Certificate of DL Under 18 (SCDMV Form PDLA) from your driver's education program once you successfully complete the course.
The Certificate of DL Under 18 (SCDMV Form PDLA) is available at all driver training schools in South Carolina. It is also available at all public high schools in the state. Please do not download any copies of this form you may find online. The SCDMV will only accept completed forms from authorized issuers. For more information, please contact the SCDMV Office of Inspector General at 803-896-9606.
Conditional License for a 15-year-old Driver
You may hear this information referred to as a restricted license. You may hear a skills test called a road test.
If you are at least 15 ½, but less than 16, and have met the above requirements, you are eligible for a Conditional license. You must pass the vision and road test to receive this license. If you pass the required tests for your Conditional license, you will earn full driving privileges once you’ve held your Conditional license for one year with no traffic offenses and not been at-fault in any collisions.
If you're visiting a branch after 2 p.m., you must make an appointment.
If you are 16, but less than 17, have met the above requirements, and have passed your vision and road test, or if you are 16 and have a Conditional license, you are eligible for a Special Restricted license.
A Special Restricted and a Conditional license have the same nighttime and unsupervised driving restrictions. But, if you have a Special Restricted license and you're 16, you may apply for a waiver to drive alone until midnight (more information below).
Driving Restrictions for Conditional and Special Restricted Licenses
- You cannot have more than two passengers under 21 in the car with you unless you are with a licensed adult who is at least 21. The only exception is if you are transporting family members or students to and from school.
- You may drive alone from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8 p.m. during daylight savings time).
- You may drive with a licensed driver, who is at least 21, from 6 p.m. (8 p.m. during daylight savings time) to midnight.
- You may drive with your licensed parent or legal guardian from midnight to 6 a.m.
If you are under 17 and gain 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 with a Waiver for a 16-year-old Driver
If you are 16 and have a Special Restricted or Conditional license, you may be eligible for a Special Restricted license with a waiver. The Special Restricted license with a waiver allows you to drive by yourself until midnight if you work or participate in certain extracurricular activities.
To get a Special Restricted license with a waiver, you must visit an SCDMV branch and do all of the following:
- Complete the Application for a Driver's License, Beginner's Permit, or ID (SCDMV Form 447-NC)
- Bring a letter, on letterhead, from your school, church, work, or extracurricular activity that says you need this waiver
- Bring a letter from your parent that says your parent is allowing you to have the waiver and why you need this license
- Pass a vision test
- Pay $12.50
SC Code Section 56-1-176