You’ve taken driver’s ed online or in a classroom and have your certificate of completion in your hand. Congratulations! Now you’re probably wondering what you need to do next to get your driver’s license.
The process varies depending on whether you are over or under 18, with older drivers having fewer restrictions. While each state has its own rules and requirements, the steps are essentially the same. Here’s a look at everything you need to know so you can get your permit, get licensed, and officially drive on your own.
Steps to Get Your License if You’re Under 18
Becoming a safe driver requires experience, which is why all 50 states and Washington, D.C. restrict teen driving in one way or another. This makes the process of getting your license a bit more complex. Depending on the state where you live, you may need to follow these steps.
1. Prepare for Your Learner’s Permit Exam
Before you can get your driver’s license, you’ll need to get a learner’s permit. This requires you to pass a knowledge test, so you’ll want to start studying right away. You may also want to take some practice tests so you’re fully prepared when the time comes.
Some states will require you to take additional courses, and you'll need to pass a vision and hearing test. If you are under 18, you’ll likely also need a signed and notarized parental consent form.
2. Obtain Your Learner’s Permit
Once you’ve completed all of your state’s requirements and have reached the minimum age, you’ll be able to apply for your learner’s permit. This will allow you to drive with a licensed driver in the vehicle with you, but there will be important rules you’ll need to follow. This may include restrictions on the number of passengers you can have, the time of day when you can drive, the required minimum age of the licensed driver supervising you, and more.
3. Practice Your Driving Skills
Many states require teen drivers to hold their learner’s permits for a minimum amount of time before taking their driver’s license exam. While you are waiting, be sure to practice as much as you can. Some states require a minimum amount of time behind the wheel, which will need to be documented by a supervising party.
4. Apply for Your License
Once you’ve met your state’s minimum requirements, you can take your driver’s test. In most states, you’ll receive a provisional or intermediate license that still has certain driving restrictions. As long as you follow the rules and meet all requirements, you’ll be able to obtain your full, unrestricted driver’s license once you reach the specified age.
Steps to Get Your License if You’re Over 18
If you’re over 18, the process may be slightly different. While you likely won’t have to wait as long to get your full driver’s license, you’ll still need to follow a few simple steps.
1. Pass Your Knowledge Test & Get Your Permit
Before you take your knowledge test, it’s important to spend some time studying your state’s driver’s handbook. You may also want to take some practice exams to ensure that you’re fully prepared before your test day. If you pass, you should find out right away and will receive your learner’s permit the same day.
2. Practice Your Driving
Once you’ve got your learner’s permit, it’s time to get behind the wheel. Be sure to follow all the rules and restrictions so you don't get yourself in trouble. You'll want to find a trusted friend, family member, or another adult to help you learn the ropes. Try to practice your driving skills as much as you can, so you feel confident on the road. You might also decide to attend a driving school or other driver education programs.
Since you’re over 18, the time may be reduced for how long you must have a learner's permit before you can take your driver's test. However, every state has its own rules. Once you’ve met your state’s requirements and feel that you have enough education and practice, it’s time to take your driver’s test.
3. Take Your Road Test & Get Your License
Typically, you’ll need to schedule an appointment for your road test in advance, and you’ll need a vehicle that is in good condition. While the format and location of your test may vary from one location to the next, you can expect that you’ll be asked to perform basic skills such as turns and changing lanes. Some areas also require you to perform parallel parking. Your state can provide you with more information about what to expect.
If you pass your road test, you'll know right away — and you'll officially be a licensed driver in your state!
Prepare to Get Your Driver’s License
Learning how to drive with a parent or family member can be stressful. They may feel nervous with you behind the wheel and make you feel nervous as well. That’s why so many drivers choose to take DriversEd.com. Our drivers ed courses are sure to make you a more confident and safe driver on the road.