South Dakota Driver’s License Types – And How to Get Them

South Dakota Driver's License Types - And How to Get Them

There are 6 South Dakota driver’s license types.

Because of this, it can get quite confusing. 

Which one do you need?

We’re here to answer that question for you. 

In this article, we will go over the driver’s license types (or classes) in South Dakota. We’ll explain what each one is used for. 

On top of that, we’ll also show you how to get them.

So are you ready?

Let’s go!

What are the Types of Driver’s Licenses in South Dakota?

The South Dakota driver’s license types come in 2 categories: 

  • Non-Commercial:
    • Class 1
    • Class 2
    • Class 3
  • Commercial:
    • Class A CDL
    • Class B CDL
    • Class C CDL

Let’s look at them.

Non-Commercial: Class 1

A Class 1 driver’s license is your standard credential — what you need to drive non-commercial vehicles such as sedans, SUVs, and pickups. It’s also what you need if you want to operate a moped.

If you want to get really specific — A Class 1 license can operate non-commercial vehicles that weigh fewer than 26,000 pounds. 

Non-Commercial: Class 2

A Class 2 license is very similar to a Class 1. The only difference is it allows you to drive a motorcycle. It’s also known as an operator’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.

Non-Commercial: Class 3

Say you just plan on driving a motorcycle and nothing else. You can get a Class 3 license for this. 

And remember, Class 3 ONLY covers motorcycles. 

Commercial: Class A CDL

The Class A CDL is the highest commercial license. So you can operate the heaviest types of trucks with this. 

More specifically, you can operate combination commercial vehicles that have a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of more than 26,000 pounds. The towed vehicle should weigh at least 10,000 pounds. 

Examples of Class A commercial vehicles are semis, big rigs, and trucks that pull double or triple trailers. 

Now, get this, you can use a Class A CDL to operate Class B and Class C commercial vehicles, too. So it’s certainly the most flexible. 

Commercial: Class B CDL

A Class B CDL is primarily for heavy, straight vehicles with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds. If the commercial vehicle tows a unit, it should NOT exceed 10,000 pounds. 

Large city buses, box vans, and dump trucks fall under this category.

And sure, it isn’t as flexible as a Class A CDL — but it can operate Class C commercial vehicles. 

Commercial: Class C CDL

A Class C CDL is very specific. 

What we mean is that it is needed for commercial vehicles that have a GVWR of fewer than 26,000 pounds and tows units of fewer than 10,000 pounds — PLUS meets one of these descriptions:

  • Used to transport 16 or more passengers
  • Used to carry hazardous materials that require placarding 

How to Get a Class 1 License in South Dakota

Get this. 

You have to have a Class 1 license to get another license class (except for Class 3). 

So almost everyone will need one of these. 

And this is why we’re going to list down the steps for it first. 

Step 1: Secure an instructional permit (required for those 14-18 years old).

  • (OPTIONAL) Complete a state-approved driver’s education program. This will allow you to waive the knowledge and driving test.
  • Prepare the following:
    • Documents to prove identity, birth date, US citizenship or lawful presence, residence in South Dakota (you need 2), and Social Security Number 
    • A completed driver’s license application form (this form must be signed by your parent or legal guardian in the licensing office)
    • A filled-out and notarized Parental Consent Form (if your parent or legal guardian can’t make it to the office with you)
    • Completion certificate from your approved driver’s ed (if applicable)
  • Pay the $28 permit fee.
  • Have your picture taken. 
  • Receive your instructional permit.

Step 2. Get a restricted minor’s license (for those between 14½ to 15 years old).

  • Hold your instructional permit for 9 months (if you didn’t take driver’s ed) OR 6 months (if you took driver’s ed).
  • Have zero traffic convictions.
  • Complete 50 hours of supervised driving, with 10 hours each for driving at night and in inclement weather. 
  • Schedule your driving test online. You can waive the driving test, too, if you completed an approved driver’s ed. 
  • Go to a state exam office and present the following:
    • Your valid instruction permit
    • Driver’s ed certificate (if appliable)
    • A filled-out application form
    • A completed Supervised Driving Log and Supervised Driving Affidavit. Must be signed by your parent/legal guardian at the office center. 
    • A notarized Parental Consent Form (if your parent/legal guardian can’t make it)
    • Proof of US citizenship or legal presence
    • Social Security Card
    • Two documents proving residence in South Dakota (the name can be your parents’ name)
    • Proof of name change (if applicable)
  • Take and pass the driving test (if it wasn’t waived with a driver’s ed)
  • Pay the $28 license fee.
  • Get your restricted minor’s license.

Step 3. Obtain an unrestricted Class 1 license (for 16+ years old)

  • Fulfill these requirements:
    • Be at least 16 years old
    • Hold your restricted minor’s license for at least 6 months
    • Have zero traffic convictions 
  • Pay the $28 fee.
  • Receive your Class 1 license. 

If you’re getting a first-time license at 18+ years old, you don’t have to get an instructional permit or restricted minor’s license. 

Instead, you just have to take and pass the knowledge and driving test, and pay the application fee. 

If you need more information, check out our ultimate guide to South Dakota driver’s license requirements. 

How to Get a Class 2 and 3 License in South Dakota

If you remember, Class 2 and Class 3 share a common denominator. 

Both allow you to operate motorcycles in South Dakota.

The primary difference is a Class 2 license is like a Class 1 license with a motorcycle endorsement. 

A Class 3 license limits your driving privileges to a motorcycle.

Now, whether you’re getting a Class 2 or 3 license, the steps are very similar to a Class 1 license (check above). 

The only difference is that you’ll be taking a motorcycle safety course, motorcycle knowledge test, and motorcycle driving test (if these tests are not waived). On top of that, you’ll need to submit the application form, too. 

Here’s one important thing you should know. 

With a motorcycle permit, you can NOT:

  • Operate your motorcycle between 8:00 pm to 6:00 am 
  • Have any passengers with you. Your supervised driver must be on a separate motorcycle. 

How to Get a Class A, B, and C CDL in South Dakota

It doesn’t matter which CDL class you’re getting — the process is the same. 

Step 1. Get your commercial learner’s permit (required for everyone).

  • Choose your CDL class and endorsement (if any).
  • Meet the eligibility requirements:
    • Be at least 18 years old OR 21 if driving interstate or transporting hazardous materials
    • Have a valid Class 1 license
    • Must be physically and mentally able to drive a commercial vehicle
  • Prepare the following documents:
    • A filled-out license application form
    • Proof of identity
    • 2 proofs of residence in South Dakota (must show your name and is not more than 1 year old)
    • Proof of citizenship or lawful status
    • Social Security Number

Driver Licensing Program

118 West Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Fax: (605) 773-3018

  • On your appointment, do the following:
    • Submit all your documents 
    • Pay the application fee of $33 AND $15 for any endorsement knowledge test. 
  • Pass all the required CDL knowledge tests. You can study for the general CDL test with the South Dakota CDL Manual.  
  • Get your commercial learner’s permit. 

Step 2. Get your commercial driver’s license (whichever class you applied for).

  • Hold your CDL permit for 14 days or longer. 
  • Complete an Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) if you are getting a Class A CDL, Class B CDL, N endorsement, P endorsement, or S endorsement for the first time. 
  • On your appointment, bring the following:
    • Valid CDL permit
    • Proof of identity
    • $90 plus tax for the test fee
    • Any other document(s) that the third-party site asks for
  • Pass the CDL driving skills test. 
  • Visit an SD Driver Licensing location and submit:
    • Your valid CDL permit
    • Your CDL skills test passing score
    • A filled-out license application form
    • Proof of identity
    • 2 proofs of residence in South Dakota (must show your name and is not more than 1 year old)
    • Proof of citizenship or lawful status
    • Social Security Number
  1. Receive your Class A, Class B, or Class C CDL.

Need even more information? Then check out our “South Dakota CDL Requirements” article here. 

The Wrap Up

There you have it — the South Dakota driver’s license types. 

When you know what each class can operate, you won’t be confused about which one to get. 

And when you know HOW to get the license type you need, it will be so much easier for you. 

So make sure to go and get the right one…

Make sure to follow the right steps, too. 

Good luck!

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