The South Carolina CDL allows residents to drive commercially. Also known as the commercial drivers license, this credential allows drivers to legally operate buses and trucks, and you will need it if you plan to operate a large vehicle for your job. Because the South Carolina CDL license grants additional privileges to motorists, you will need to pass several tests before you can receive yours. Note that you must have a standard drivers license before you can apply for a CDL.

The CDL license procedures include various requirements, from the qualifications to receive a learners permit to the documentation required to legally obtain commercial driving credentials from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, or SCDMV. Once you satisfy all of the state-specific requirements, you will be permitted to drive professionally on South Carolina state roads, and even beyond.

CDL Requirements in South Carolina

CDL license requirements in South Carolina state that drivers can apply for commercial licenses once they have turned 18 years of age. In order to drive across state borders in a commercial vehicle, however, drivers must be at least 21 years of age.

Additionally, you must pass a knowledge test in order to get your permit, and a road test in order to get your license.

CDL requirements state that you can be disqualified from getting a commercial license for any of the following reasons:

  • You were convicted of a felony involving your commercial vehicle and a controlled substance
  • You were convicted of two felonies involving your commercial vehicle
  • You were convicted of two DUI charges in your commercial vehicle

How to Apply for a CDL Permit in South Carolina

To get a CDL permit in South Carolina, you must first plan an in-person visit to a DMV office. To start, you be asked to submit an Affidavit of Previous Driver’s License. This form will ask for your name, birth date and Social Security Number, or SSN, as well as information regarding previous licenses you have held. If your personal information is not up-to-date with the Social Security Administration, you will need to contact that organization before you can apply for a license.

You will also need to provide the DMV with four forms of documentation. Each must prove:

  • Your identity. For U.S. citizens, this will usually be your passport or birth certificate. You can also provide a Permanent Resident card or a Certificate of Citizenship.
  • Your Social Security Number. This is typically your Social Security Card, but it can also be a W-2 or a 1099 that shows your name and full SSN.
  • Your residency. This can be any official document showing your name and address, including bank correspondence, bills, a school transcript or a voter registration card.

Note that you will need two documents proving your residency, but only one, each, to prove your identity and SSN.

CDL permit requirements state that you must then pass both a knowledge and vision exam. Once you have done so, you will receive your permit. Keep in mind that the SCDMV does not charge you for taking a vision exam.

Your permit allows you to practice driving before you take your road test. However, CDL permit rules require you to drive only when accompanied by a driver with a commercial license.

CDL Written Test in South Carolina

The South Carolina CDL written test requires you to fully understand the information contained in the Commercial Driver License Manual. This means you will need to know the laws you are expected to follow, the proper way to handle various driving situations and how to correctly pack your vehicle.

The CDL general knowledge test is typically administered in a written test format, but it can also be taken orally. You need to answer 80 percent of the South Carolina CDL permit test questions correctly, in order to get your permit.

South Carolina CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests

You can find a short CDL practice test at the end of every chapter of the South Carolina CDL handbook. CDL prep is crucial to your testing success, because the questions found in the manual are some of the same questions that are likely to appear on your test.

Another way to get CDL training in South Carolina is to go to a commercial driving school, often referred to as a truck driving school. This form of training is not required, but it can allow you to get hands-on experience with all three aspects of the road exam. Instructors at CDL schools in South Carolina should be able to answer any questions you may have about taking the test.

How to Get a CDL License in South Carolina

To apply for the CDL license in South Carolina, you will first need to fill out the South Carolina CDL application, and submit it to a DMV office. Though you will be required to resubmit your Medical Certification, application and Affidavit of Previous Driver’s License to get your CDL, you will not be required to resubmit documentation proving your identity, SSN or address.

CDL Driving Test in South Carolina

The South Carolina CDL test has three sections. They are comprised of:

  • Examining the vehicle before you drive.
  • Parking the vehicle using several methods, including several forms of parallel parking.
  • Exhibiting safe driving habits in a variety of conditions, including while on roads and highways.

Keep in mind that if you fail any portion of the test, you should ask your instructor if you can ‘bank’ your current test. This means you will only be required to retake the portions of the road exam that you did not pass on your first attempt.

You can take the CDL driving test in South Carolina at one of nine DMV offices. You can choose between the most convenient location when you schedule your test online.

How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in South Carolina

The South Carolina military CDL allows service members or veterans who previously drove commercially for the military to waive their skills tests. In order to get this waiver, the following must apply:

  • CDL requirements were waived for you when you operated a commercial vehicle for the military
  • You drove a commercial vehicle for the military sometime during the last year
  • You drove a commercial vehicle for the military that would require the same license class for which you are applying, at some point during the past two years

The process of getting a CDL for veterans who do not fulfill the above requirements is the same as it is for civilians. However, you can apply for a veteran designation on your license, if desired.

CDL Medical Exams in South Carolina

New DOT physical requirements in South Carolina state that you must get a CDL physical in South Carolina before applying for your commercial driving privileges in the state. The CDL medical exam checks to ensure that you do not have any health problems that might prevent you from operating a vehicle safely. It is important to note that instances of blindness, deafness and seizures are all potential disqualifiers from successfully obtaining a CDL in SC.

Keep in mind that you must have your physical examination administered by a DOT medical examiner who is a member of the FMCSA’s National Registry.

Types of CDL Classes in South Carolina

The South Carolina Class A license, Class B license and Class C license are all offered to those seeking to drive professionally in the state. Which type of CDL class you choose will vary, based on which vehicle you plan to drive. The classes are further defined as:

  • The Class A CDL is offered to applicants who will be driving single or combination vehicles that weigh a minimum of 26,001 pounds. You can tow a vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds.
  • The Class B CDL is offered to applicants who will be driving single vehicles that weigh a minimum of 26,001 pounds. You cannot tow a vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds.
  • The Class C CDL is offered to applicants who will be driving vehicles that can carry hazardous materials or 16 or more people. If you want to transport hazardous materials, you will need the hazmat endorsement, whereas if you want to drive with 16 or more people, you will need the passenger endorsement, or the school bus endorsement.

Types of CDL Endorsements in South Carolina

South Carolina CDL endorsements grant you additional driving privileges. You will need to take knowledge exams to get any of these endorsements, and some of them also require a skills test. The endorsements for commercial drivers in SC include the below:

  • Hazmat Endorsement
  • Tanker Endorsement
  • Hazmat/Tanker Endorsement
  • Passenger Endorsement
  • School Bus Endorsement
  • Doubles/Triples Endorsement

Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in South Carolina

The South Carolina intrastate CDL and interstate CDL each offer different privileges. If you will only be driving commercially within South Carolina, you should get the intrastate license. The interstate license, on the other hand, is intended for drivers who will need to cross state borders.

If some of your jobs require interstate driving, and others require intrastate driving, you will need to opt for the interstate license.

Commercial Driving License Fees in South Carolina

CDL license cost and CDL permit cost in South Carolina are the same for all drivers. Keep in mind the following:

  • Unless you drive a school bus for a public school, you need to pay $15 to apply for a permit or license
  • Knowledge tests cost $2, though your first three tests are covered by the application fee
  • The CDL permit costs $2.50
  • The CDL license costs $12.50
Last updated on Thursday, March 5 2020.