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How to Get a Massachusetts Drivers License

So you're ready to get behind the wheel, but you're not quite sure where to start? Just follow these steps to get your Massachusetts drivers license and hit the open road.

Step One: Get Your Learner's Permit

The Massachusetts RMV aims to make it easy for teens to get in the driver's seat, but it also wants young drivers to stay safe. That's why the state has put a graduated licensing program into effect. The process begins when you turn 16 and you can apply for your leaner's permit.

Fortunately, the Massachusetts RMV offers a useful online tool that helps you fill out your permit application and determine which forms of identification you'll need to bring along to the RMV service center.

At the RMV office, you'll need to take a vision test and a written knowledge exam. You must answer 18 of the 25 questions on the written test correctly in order to pass. Make sure you study up on Massachusetts' traffic laws and highway signs in the state's Class D driver's manual.

Step Two: Start Driving

Once you get your permit, you can practice driving as long as you're accompanied by a licensed driver who is over 21 and who has at least one year of driving experience. You cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless you're with a parent or guardian who meets the aforementioned requirements.

Before you can take the road skills test to get your junior operator license, which will allow you to drive on your own, you'll need to do a bit of preparing. You must:

  • Have your permit for at least six months without any moving violations
  • Complete a state-approved driver's education program that includes both classroom and in-car components
  • Log at least 40 hours of supervised driving practice

After you've met all those qualifications and you feel comfortable behind the wheel, you're ready for the next stop on the road to your Massachusetts drivers license.

Step Three: Get Your Junior Operator License

Massachusetts' junior operator license (JOL) allows teens between the ages of 16 and a half and 18 to start driving on their own. To get your JOL, you'll need to take a road skills exam. You should plan to make an appointment at the RMV service center and bring along:

  • Your permit
  • A sponsor (usually a parent or guardian with a valid license)
  • A completed road test application

You'll also be expected to bring a vehicle for the test that has a valid registration, proof of insurance and a current inspection sticker.

Your examiner will check your vehicle to ensure that it's up to safety standards, then you'll get started. In addition to exhibiting that you can drive safely in typical traffic conditions, you may be asked to demonstrate the following maneuvers:

  • Using hand signals
  • Starting and stopping the car on a flat road and on a hill
  • Parallel parking
  • Straight line backing
  • Three-point turns
  • Following all traffic signs and signals

If you pass the exam, you'll earn your JOL.

Step Four: Drive Safely

Your JOL will become an unrestricted Massachusetts drivers license when you turn 18 as long as you drive responsibly. You'll also need to abide by the following JOL restrictions:

  • For the first six months, you cannot drive any passengers who are under 18 unless they're your siblings
  • You cannot drive between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you're with a parent or guardian
  • You cannot use a cell phone while driving, even if its hands free

If you follow those rules and drive carefully, you'll be well on your way to earning your unrestricted Massachusetts drivers license.

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