How to Get a Driver's Permit

Are you overpaying for car, home, or renters insurance? Compare to find out in 45 seconds.
Quotes from up to 45 companies · No long forms · No phone calls
A written test is a key step in getting a driver's permit. (Photo: @eddieespinal via Twenty20)
Young and new drivers need a driver’s permit in the lead-up to actually obtaining a license. Getting a driver’s permit in your state might seem as easy as taking a written test, but you need to keep some factors in mind, as this article explains.

Check Out the Qualifications for the Driver’s Permit Written Test

States only allow drivers of a certain age to get a driver’s permit prior to obtaining a driver’s license. The following table from DMV.org details the required age for drivers and whether they need to take a driver’s training program in conjunction with getting a permit:
Qualifying Age and Other Requirements for a Driver's Permit by State
State Qualifying Age and Other Criteria by State
Alabama 15 years old when enrolled in a driver's training program/otherwise 16 years old
Alaska 14 years old
Arizona 15 years, 6 months old
Arkansas 14 years old
California 15 years, 6 months old/complete a driver's training program
Colorado 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Connecticut 16 years old
Delaware 16 years old/complete a driver's training program
D.C. 16 years old
Florida 15 years old/complete a Traffic Laws and Substance Abuse Education course
Georgia 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Hawaii 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Idaho 14 years, 6 months old/complete a driver's training program
Illinois 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Indiana 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Iowa 14 years old
Kansas 14 years old
Kentucky 16 years old
Louisiana 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Maine 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Maryland 16 years, 6 months old/complete a driver's training program
Massachusetts 16 years old
Michigan 14 years, 6 months old/complete a driver's training program
Minnesota 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Mississippi 14 years old
Missouri 15 years old
Montana 14 years, 6 months old/complete a driver's training program
Nebraska 14 years old
Nevada 15 years, 6 months old
New Hampshire State does not issue driver's permits
New Jersey 16 years old/complete a driver's training program
New Mexico 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
New York 16 years old
North Carolina 14 years, 6 months old/complete a driver's training program
North Dakota 14 years old
Ohio 15 years, 6 months old
Oklahoma 15 years, 6 months old if enrolled in a driver's training program
Oregon 15 years old
Pennsylvania 16 years old
Rhode Island 16 years old/complete a driver's training program
South Carolina 15 years old
South Dakota 14 years old
Tennessee 15 years old
Texas 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Utah 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Vermont 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
Virginia 15 years, 6 months old
Washington 15 years old/complete a driver's training program
West Virginia 15 years old
Wisconsin 15 years, 6 months old/complete a driver's training program
Wyoming 15 years old

Fill Out the Necessary Paperwork for the Driver’s Permit Written Test

In order to apply for a driver’s permit in many states, you need to fill out the appropriate paperwork, including the application. In addition, you need to turn in specific documents, which can vary by state. Most states require the following forms of identification when applying for a driver’s permit:
  • Proof of identity, citizenship, or residency
  • Proof of school attendance, your GED, or high school diploma
  • Any required affidavits signed by a parent or guardian

Pay Any Required Fees for the Driver’s Permit Written Test

After submitting the required paperwork, you need to pay any fees associated with the licensing process. Many states only have you pay part of the fee upon applying, and then they have you pay the remainder upon qualifying for your actual driver’s license. On the other hand, some states require that you pay the whole fee upfront.
State guidelines can vary regarding how many times you can take the test before you need to pay another fee. Some states might require a small test fee before you can take the test again. Contact your state DMV office for more information.

Study for the Driver’s Permit Written Test

Before taking the driver’s permit written test, make sure to study properly if you want to pass on your first attempt. One of the best ways to study is to read the DMV driver’s handbook.
Another great way to study is to take driver’s license practice tests, which you can find online at sites like dmv.org and dmv-permit-test.com.

Take the Driver’s Permit Written Test and Eye Exam

Once you have filled out all of the paperwork and paid any necessary fees, you can take the driver’s written test. Depending on the state, you can miss a certain number of questions and still pass. Officials at your local DMV office should let you know on the same day you took your test whether you failed or passed, as well as when you can retake it if you did fail.
You must also do an eye exam to see if you require glasses to drive. The DMV will not allow you to proceed with the on-the-road test until you have met their vision requirements. Usually, the DMV gives you a form to take to an eye doctor, who tells the DMV whether you need glasses or not. If you do have glasses prescribed, you need to wear the glasses while performing the eye exam.
Getting a driver’s permit represents just the first step in the licensing process. By studying properly, making sure you have the required paperwork, and taking your time while taking the written test, you can complete this process easily and move on to the next step: Taking the on-the-road driving test. In addition, when applying for a driver’s license, you need to make sure your car has the required insurance coverage.