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For teens, applying for their driver's license for the first time is a major milestone in life. While the process may not be as quick and easy as with adult applicants, teenagers in the state of Texas need not worry. The process is actually much simpler than many new drivers expect it to be, and so long as you demonstrate your knowledge of the road and good driving behavior, you will earn your full unrestricted license as soon as you turn 18.

Step One: The Learners License

At the age of 15, teen drivers in Texas can apply for a learners license (also known in other states as a driving permit or learners permit). All applicants are required to take an approved driver's education course, which typically consists of 32 hours of classroom instruction and 44 hours of behind-the-wheel training. Once the first six hours of the driver's education class have been completed, they are eligible to take the written examination for your permit.

Everything covered on the exam can be found in the Texas Drivers Handbook. Review the handbook, or take a few practice tests to prepare yourself for the day of the exam.

On the day of the exam, don't forget to bring the following to the testing center:

  • Proof of identity (such as a certified birth certificate) and Social Security number
  • 2 proofs of residency in Texas
  • Texas driver education certificate from your driving course
  • Verification of enrollment in school, high school diploma, or GED
  • Application for Texas driver's license signed by a parent or guardian
  • Learner license and exam fees

Upon earning a learners license, teen drivers are beholden to the restrictions of the Texas Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program. Holders of a learners license are required to drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older at all times.

Step Two: The Intermediate License

In order to earn an intermediate license, the next step in the Texas GDL Program, Texas teens with learners licenses must fulfill some requirements. In order to take the behind-the-wheel exam, teen learners must complete a minimum of 30 practice driving hours, at least 10 of which must be done at night. Once this has been completed and a learners permit has been held for six months without incident, teenagers can take the road test to apply for their intermediate license.

Additionally, before taking the behind-the-wheel exam, teens must complete the Texas DPS' free Impact Texas Teen Drivers course (ITTD). Once the ITTD course is complete, they will receive an email with a certificate, which they must bring to the DPS within 90 days. If it is not delivered, the teen will have to retake the ITTD course.

Upon passing the road test, a teen will be awarded with an intermediate license. This gives them the ability to drive without supervision from a licensed driver. However, there are restrictions involved for driving under this license. For the first year of holding an intermediate driver's license, a teen is not allowed to:

  • Drive between midnight and 5 a.m. without accompaniment by a licensed older driver
  • Drive with more than one passenger under 21 years old who is not a family member
  • Drive with a wireless communication device, regardless if it is hands-free

Step Three and Beyond

If the driver is able to keep their intermediate license for a year without road violations, their license will transition to a provisional license - and once the teen is 18 years old, their license will automatically be upgraded to a full unrestricted Texas driver's license.