Drivers License Requirements for Taking a Driving Test

March 29, 2012

Drivers license requirements vary based on age (e.g. over or under 18). Learn what you need to pass the drivers license exam and apply for a license.

Online Driving Test

The Department of Motor Vehicles has a number of drivers license requirements that must be fulfilled before a license will be issued. Different states have different laws regarding the requirements needed for residents to take the driving test, and there are also different rules for people depending on their age. In some states the minimum age for taking the driving test is 18, while in others it is only 16. Some states require people to take drivers ed at a registered driving school before they can take the test, while some do not.

The Requirements

While there is some variation in the laws regarding the requirements needed for taking the driving test, the basics are the same. In most states, if you are only one year under the legal driving age, you can get a learner's permit, which allows you to drive as long as there is a person with a drivers license directing you from the passenger seat. Until you reach the age of 18, you must have the learner's permit for six months before you can take the test, but once you reach the age of 18 you can take the test regardless of whether or not you have a permit. You must bring your passport or other personal identification and insurance information to the DMV when you take your test.

Drivers License Requirements for People over 18

If a person is applying for a drivers license for the first time and they are over the age of 18, the majority of states will issue them a full unrestricted license upon passing the written and practical driving test. This is not true of all states, so be sure to check with your local DMV regarding the requirements of your state. Most of the time, graduation from a driving course will not be required of people over the age of 18. Regardless of the law, it's a good idea to attend a driving course if you're an inexperienced driver. Driving school allows you to practice and gain confidence under the guidance of an instructor.

Drivers License Requirements for People under 18

After you pass the written and practical components of your drivers license exam, the DMV will create a license card for you and mail it to your address, however, if you are under the age of 18 in the United States, the drivers license requirements are different from those of a person who is over the age of 18. In most states, underage drivers receive a "graduated license." This special form of license permits the holder to drive, but places certain limitations on their driving. These provisional licenses often look different from those of standard licenses.

Driving Restrictions

The restrictions of a graduated license depend upon the state in which you live. Kansas and South Dakota do not have any provisional license requirements whatsoever, and any license holder has full driving privileges, regardless of age. However, all other states place some sort of limitation on the holder of a new license. By taking time to gain additional experience while driving as a licensed driver, these new license holders help to maintain road safety and protect their own health and that of those around them on the road. Graduated license restrictions generally fall into two categories: passenger limitations and driving hour limitations.

Passenger Limitations

Most states limit the number of passengers in the car when operated by a new driver. Passengers can be distracting, which leads to increased risk of accidents. Some states place a limit on the number of underage passengers, while others mandate that older or more experienced drivers be in the vehicle as well. Different areas may also have varying rules about family member passengers. Typically, the new driver will have a passenger limitation in effect for the first few months of driving, after which that driver will be able to transport as many people as can legally fit inside of the vehicle.

Driving Curfews

Some states also place limitations on the times of day during which a new driver may operate a car. This helps to limit night driving, which may be more dangerous than daytime driving. The exact curfew depends upon the state. Most areas require that an adult be present in the car in order for a new driver to operate a vehicle after 10 pm. Failure to obey the curfew can result in traffic violations and other penalties.

For more information specific to your state, contact your local DMV.

How to Get a Drivers License at the DMV

Obtaining your drivers license takes time and patience, and you have to be a responsible individual. Here are some steps to get your drivers license from the DMV:

  • Obtain a manual. You must first obtain a manual, which has the rules about driving. This book can be picked up at your area DMV office.
  • Gather identification. After reading the manual, get your birth certificate, social security card and picture identification. Take this information and go down to your local DMV.
  • Take the written test. If you are under 18, you will likely take a test to obtain your learner's permit. People 18 and over will take the test to get their drivers license
  • Take a vision test. You are also given an eye test. If you wear glasses or contacts, you are allowed to use these for the test.
  • Take the road test. After you pass the written test, you have to take a driving test. Be sure to follow the road rules and drive with caution. If you are going for a license renewal, you don't have to take the driving test again.
  • Pay the fees. When you have passed the driving test, you pay a license fee and take a picture for your license.

How to Get a Drivers License Form Online

Every US state has a specific DMV website specially dedicated to its motor vehicle laws. Each of these websites adheres to the laws belonging to that particular state. Hence, the forms offered at these websites are fit for people looking to get a drivers license from that particular website.

How to Pass the Drivers License Exam

The drivers license exam is a two part test that requires you to answer questions as well as showcase your driving skills. The questions are not too hard, and they are geared for many people to pass. That doesn't mean you can just walk in cold without any preparation and think you can pass the test.

  • Driver's manual. The driver's manual, available from the DMV, teaches the rules of the roads, different signs, and goes over certain driving situations. They gear the manuals to help you pass the test by including things that can appear on the test.
  • Practice tests. Take some practice tests. Doing practice questions will help you prepare for the written part of the exam. There are usually questions after each chapter in the driver's manual. There are sample questions on the DMV site.
  • Driver's education. In some states driver's ed is required in order to take the driving test. A driver's education class helps you prepare for the written and road test, but also teaches you key things that you will use for your entire driving career.
  • Driving practice. The more time you spend behind the wheel, the more comfortable you will feel when driving. The test isn't only about the point deductions, but also how you feel and act behind the wheel of the car. Getting as much practice as you can with an adult driver can help you pass the exam.
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