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Steps for Getting a Teen Drivers License

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It’s well known that teens get into more accidents than more experienced drivers. That’s why all states have a Graduated Licensing Program in place for first time drivers that first requires a teen to demonstrate knowledge of traffic laws by taking a written exam before allowing any teen driver to hit the road – even though a licensed adult driver in good standing in the same vehicle is a requirement. The goal of the different steps of the graduated licensing program is to ease teens into the driving process and to give young drivers the time to take driver’s education and also a year to practice with adults behind the wheel before taking the driving skills test required by the state.

Learner’s Permit. This is the first step in the Graduated Licensing Program. The earliest age for young drivers to receive a learner’s permit varies from 14 to nearly 18 years old throughout the country. In many cases, young drivers are required to undergo a driver’s education course that has been certified by the state. The time involved varies from state to state – often between 30 to 50 hours of classroom time and another 6 to 10 hours behind the wheel. Some states allow a certain amount of driving instruction from an adult instead of a driver’s education course at school or from a certified driving agency.

Written test, limited driving. The teen-aged driver must demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the rules of the road by passing a written exam. The length of the exam varies widely, but many states report that up to 70 percent of first-time test-takers do not pass the exam. In most cases, it’s possible to retake the exam at least once before having to wait a specified amount of time – often a week – before returning to again try the exam. Once the test is passed and the teen has proof that he or she completed a driver’s education course, or the required amount of behind-the-wheel time specified by the state, a learner’s permit is issued. The permit usually doesn’t allow the teen to drive alone at all and requires another adult with a driver’s license in good standing to be in the vehicle at all times.

State driver’s test. After a teen has earned a learner’s permit, the next step is to prepare for a driver skills test administered by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Often, the teen must wait at least six months and up to a year before taking the driver’s test. In addition to the driver’s test, the state may require a vision test and a hearing test. That qualifies the teen for a provisional driver’s license. The teen can return to receive an unrestricted license by either turning 17 or 18 or after six months or a year has passed.

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