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Driver Tests Overview in South Carolina

Taking a drivers test in South Carolina is one of the requirements all state drivers must complete before they can obtain a driver’s license. The drivers exam includes a written drivers test, a vision test and a road skills test. The drivers license test is done at the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which is also referred to as the SCDMV. U.S. citizens can take a driving test at any SCDMV. International drivers who are legally in the U.S. can only complete the tests at certain locations. The drivers license exam, sometimes referred to as a drivers ed test, is used to determine if a motorist understands traffic laws and safe driving techniques before he or she can obtain full driving privileges. Successfully passing the DMV drivers test requires applicants to study the state Drivers Manual and practice road skills with an experienced driver. Before taking a driving exam at the SCDMV, learn about the testing procedures and skills required in the sections below.

Who needs to take a driver test in South Carolina?

All new South Carolina drivers need to take a written drivers exam, vision test and driving skills test before they can obtain a regular drivers license at 17 years of age. Usually, driving tests are completed while motorists are fulfilling requirements for their beginners permit, conditional license or special restricted license. However, SC drivers tests may also be required for experienced drivers in some situations. Experienced motorists who want to upgrade to a higher class of drivers license may need to take a written driving test or road skills exam to obtain their credentials. Also, a drivers test may be required for international customers who are not from a country that holds reciprocity with the SCDMV. An experienced driver whose license has been expired for more than nine months must retake driving tests before he or she can renew a license. Finally, drivers exams may be required for motorists who have received more than five points on their drivers license over the past two years.

South Carolina Drivers Test Vision Requirements

Passing the SC driver’s license test requires motorists to first pass a vision test. The vision driving test determines if an applicant has adequate vision for safe driving. Motorists who wear corrective lenses should wear them at the SCDMV when taking the vision test. In South Carolina, drivers must have eyesight that is 20/70 or better. Alternatively, drivers must have 20/40 vision in one eye if vision in the other eye is 20/200 or worse.

South Carolina Written Driving Test

The written drivers test in South Carolina takes place in person at a DMV branch. If you are a non-U.S. citizen obtaining a license, then you will need to take the written driving test at an SCDMV branch that serves international customers. Before taking the written driving exam, you should study the South Carolina Drivers Manual. You can also download the SCDMV drivers exam app that allows you to complete practice questions. The driving knowledge test will gauge how well you understand safety rules, road signs and traffic laws. Thoroughly reading the drivers manual and taking practice questions will prepare you for both the written test and driving skills test.

Once you are prepared for the written drivers exam, you will complete the exam and vision test at a DMV. To pass the drivers knowledge test, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • Do not leave the testing area until you are finished with the exam.
  • You cannot talk to anyone while taking the test, either in person or over an electronic device.
  • Do not take any materials or devices such as a cell phone, calculator, driver’s manual or notes into the testing that area, as these are considered testing aids.

Ignoring these South Carolina drivers test rules will result in automatic failure.

South Carolina Driving Skills Test

The road skills portion of the DMV driving test in South Carolina determines whether you can successfully complete the procedures required to drive. To complete the driving test, you must first have a vehicle that is in safe, working order. The DMV does not provide cars for test-takers to use at any office, so you will need to bring your own. The SCDMV does, however, allow you to use a rental car for the driving skills test, provided that your name is listed as an insured driver on the rental contract.

Before going to the DMV for your driving test, you may want to schedule an appointment using the South Carolina DMV website. Note that the DMV may cancel or postpone drivers license skills tests if there is any inclement weather during the test time. When attending your driving exam appointment, you must bring your beginners permit and a vehicle liability insurance information card for the car you are using. Remember that a licensed driver must ride in the vehicle with you on the way to your driving license test, as you are not allowed to drive alone until after getting your license. If you are an experienced driver who needs to retake the road driving test for any reason, you need to bring your old drivers license and vehicle insurance card.

The skills portion of your SC drivers license exam will require you to demonstrate using your headlights, windshield wipers, turn signals and brake lights. During your driver’s test, the instructor may also direct you to demonstrate parallel parking, coming to a smooth stop, reverse driving, turning around and obeying the right of way at an intersection.

New drivers who fail the driving test on their first or second attempt are required to wait two weeks before they are eligible to retake it. Experienced drivers who fail their first or second attempts of a driver’s license test can wait one week before retaking the test. Any driver, regardless of experience, who fails the driving test three times must wait 60 days before he or she can retake it.