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How to Get a Pennsylvania Learner's Permit

If you're ready to get behind the wheel, the first step is getting your Pennsylvania learner's permit, which allows you to practice driving under the supervision of a licensed adult. In Pennsylvania, you can apply for your permit when you turn 16. Just follow these four steps.

Step One: Study for Your Written Knowledge Exam

To get your Pennsylvania learner's permit, you'll need to pass a written knowledge test that covers the state's traffic laws, road signs and defensive driving techniques.

One of the best ways to prepare is to review the Pennsylvania Driver's Handbook. Everything on the test comes directly from the handbook. The DMV also offers free practice questions online.

Step Two: Assemble Your Paperwork

Before you visit the DMV, you'll need to get all your necessary documents together. To get your permit, bring the following:

  • A completed permit application. A section of this form will need to be filled out by your doctor, so be sure to schedule a visit in advance of your trip to the DMV.
  • Proof of your identity. Your birth certificate or U.S. passport will meet this requirement.
  • Your social security card.
  • A completed Parent or Guardian Consent form.
  • A check for your permit fee. The Pennsylvania DMV does not take cash.

It's a good idea to get these items together in advance as you may need to collect some of them from a safety deposit box.

Step Three: Visit the DMV

Once you've learned the ins and outs of Pennsylvania's traffic laws and put together all your paperwork, it's time to go to the DMV. After a DMV employee has made sure you've got all the correct documents, you'll take a vision exam and your written knowledge test.

For the vision exam, you're welcome to wear your glasses or contact lenses if you need them. The written knowledge exam is only 18 questions. You'll need to answer 15 of them correctly in order to pass. If you don't earn a high enough score on the written exam, you can retake it the following business day. If you spend time studying the driver's handbook, however, that shouldn't be necessary.

If you pass both tests, you'll receive your Pennsylvania learner's permit!

Step Four: Follow All Permit Restrictions

After you get your permit, it's important that you abide by all its restrictions. Breaking the rules could make it more difficult for you to get your driver's license when the time comes. Permit holders are only allowed to drive with a licensed adult who is 21 or older in the front seat. Additionally, all passengers must wear a seat belt at all times.

Permits are valid for one year. After a year, you must either renew your permit or apply for your Pennsylvania driver's license.

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