When Can You Get Your Driver’s License in Pennsylvania?

Getting a Pennsylvania driver’s license isn’t just about passing the Pennsylvania driver’s license test. There are restrictions on when you can get your license, both in terms of age and in terms of meeting certain state requirements.

In this post, we’ll tell you how to get a Pennsylvania driver’s license and when you’re eligible to do so.

When Can You Get Your Driver's License in Pennsylvania?

Drivers in Pennsylvania are eligible to get a learner’s permit starting at age 16. But you can’t immediately apply for your driver’s license at that point. Everyone under 18 is required to wait at least six months before scheduling the driver’s license test. During this six-month period, teens must complete at least 65 hours of supervised driving practice.

Once teens have completed their 65 hours of practice over at least six months, they can take their Pennsylvania driver’s license test. So it’s possible to earn a Pennsylvania driver’s license at 16.5 years old. However, when you turn 18, there are different rules.

"Adults aged 18 or older are not required to complete the 65 practice hours or to wait the six month waiting period, but they are still issued learner’s permits so they can legally drive during their driving tests,” said Haleigh at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Haleigh confirmed this applies to all adults, whether they’re first-time drivers or licensed drivers relocating from another state. Don't worry, not all drivers moving to Pennsylvania need a permit. Usually, you can just exchange your out-of-state license for a Pennsylvania license. But if your license expired more than six months ago, you’ll need to pass the written test and the road test to earn a Pennsylvania driver’s license (hence the need for a permit).

Now that you know when you can get a driver’s license in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering how to get a driver’s license in Pennsylvania. 

How to Get a Pennsylvania Driver’s License

The Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) outlines six steps to getting a driver’s license.

Step 1: Get Your Copy of the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual

You can quickly download a copy of the Driver’s Manual, which covers the basic rules of the road for the state. The manual is also available in Spanish or via audio file from the DMV.  

Step 2: Complete a Physical Exam 

A medical professional must conduct a physical exam to check for disorders that could potentially impair your driving. These include things like:

  • Neurological disorders

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Cardiac disorders

  • Drug or alcohol abuse

A section of Form DL-180 (the driver’s license permit application) needs to be signed by your medical professional.

Step 3: Submit Your Paperwork to the DMV

Your DL-180 medical form, proof of identity, proof of residency, and Social Security card all need to be provided to the DMV in person. Once your forms are in order, you’ll be allowed to start the Pennsylvania driver’s license test process.

Step 4: Pass Your Eye Test and Knowledge Test

The first phase of the Pennsylvania driver’s license test is an eye exam followed by the written knowledge test. While driver’s ed isn’t technically required in Pennsylvania, an online driver’s ed program will give you an edge when it comes to passing the knowledge test. Once you pass this exam, you’ll be issued a learner’s permit so you can start practicing behind the wheel.

Step 5: Complete 65 Hours of Supervised Driving Practice (if Under 18)

If you’re under 18, you must complete 65 hours of driving practice over a period of at least six months, under the supervision of a licensed adult, before you are allowed to schedule a road test. Drivers who are 18 and older can skip ahead to the final step: the road test.

Step 6: Pass Your Road Test

You can schedule the behind the wheel portion of your Pennsylvania driver’s license test online. There are also a few third-party businesses that are authorized by the state to conduct the road test. This is your last hurdle to getting a driver’s license in Pennsylvania; once you pass your road test, you can get your Pennsylvania driver’s license!

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