One of the most exciting times of a teenager’s life is when he or she gets a driver’s license. This might also be one of the scariest times of a parent’s life! A teenager is subject to all of the same traffic laws as an adult and can receive citations or get into accidents, just like an adult. Training is important and required before a teenager is allowed to get behind the wheel. Section 56-1-50 of the South Carolina Code of Laws sets forth the laws for when kids can start to drive, and we summarize it here.
How to Get a Beginner’s Permit in South Carolina
First, the person must obtain a beginner’s permit. To obtain a beginner’s permit, the person must:
- Be at least 15 years old.
- If under 18 years old, the person must bring a parent or guardian to sign the application.
- Pass the DMV’s vision and knowledge test.
- Bring the person’s birth certificate, social security card, proof of residency, and insurance information.
The Rules for a Beginner’s Permit in South Carolina
Generally speaking, the rules for a beginner’s permit are as follows:
- The driver must have in the front seat a person who is 21 years or older and who has at least one year of driving experience.
- Between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m., a licensed parent or legal guardian must be in the front seat.
- The beginner’s permit expires after 12 months, but it can be renewed.
A permit is not required when:
- A student at least 15 years old takes a driver’s training course through the school and when accompanied by a qualified instructor.
- If a person is at least 15 years old, he or she can drive through a training course by a licensed driver training school. The person must always be accompanied by an instructor of the training school and may only drive an automobile owned or leased, and properly insured, by the school.
Getting a Conditional License in South Carolina
After someone has had their beginner’s permit for 180 days, if the person is under 16 years old, the person can get a “conditional license.” To get a conditional license, the person must:
- Pass the driver’s education course administered by a driver’s training school or the teenager’s school if the instructor has a valid driver’s instructor permit.
- Complete at least 40 hours of driving practice, with at least 10 hours being during darkness, supervised by the person’s licensed parent or guardian.
- Pass the DMV’s road skills test.
- Satisfy the school attendance requirement under Section 56-1-176 of our Code.
After being issued a conditional license, the driver is subject to these rules:
- The driver can drive between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. (or until 8:00 p.m. during daylight savings time without anyone accompanying the driver.
- After 6:00 p.m. (or after 8:00 p.m. if daylight savings time), the person can drive until midnight if he or she has a licensed driver over 21 years of age in the car.
- After midnight and until 6:00 a.m., the person can drive with a licensed parent or guardian in the car.
- The driver can’t transport more than 2 passengers who are under 21 unless accompanied by a licensed adult who is over 21 or unless the driver is transporting family members or transporting a student to or from school.
Getting a Special Restricted License in South Carolina
A teenager can get a special restricted license if he or she is 16 years old but under 17 if he or she has met all of the requirements listed above for a conditional license. The only difference in requirements between these two licenses is age.
The rules for a special restricted license are the same as the conditional license EXCEPT that the DMV can allow the person to drive alone at night to travel to work, school, and vocational training.
Getting a Driver’s License in South Carolina
After turning 17 years old, a person can get a driver’s license under Section 56-1-80 of our Code if the person:
- Held a beginner’s permit for 180 days.
- Passes the vision and road skills test.
If the person is under 18, he or she needs to have a parent or guardian sign the application. If the person is over 18, the parent or guardian is not needed.
Additional Laws for Young Drivers in South Carolina
The driving points system for adult drivers is explained here. For drivers under 17 who have held a driver’s license for under one year, if the driver accumulates 6 points against his or her license, driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months. If the driver is convicted of a traffic offense or is at fault in an auto accident, the driving restrictions described in this article will remain until one year has passed with no violations or until the driver turns 17.