How to Get a Hawaii Learners Permit

You’re able to get a Hawaii learner’s permit once you turn 15 1/2 years old. This is the first phase of a three-tiered program for licensing young drivers.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Pat Roache
Aloha! If you’re a young driver who wants to learn to drive in Hawaii, you have to be 15 1/2 years old to get your instructional permit, which is the first step in Hawaii’s three-phase Graduated Licensing Program. 
Like most states, Hawaii has adopted a Graduated Licensing Program for drivers under the age of 18. This is part of a push to keep the roads safer for drivers of all ages and to allow new drivers the time they need to build up their driving skills. 
The first of the three phases is what Hawaii calls an instructional permit, and we’ve got all the info you need to know about how to get one right here, as well as details on restrictions and the requirements to get your graduated
Hawaii driver’s license
.

How to get a Hawaii instructional permit

To get your instructional permit in Hawaii, you have to be at least 15 1/2 years old. New drivers who are 18 or older don’t have to do the
Graduated Licensing Program
if they don’t want to, but you don’t have a choice if you want to get your license while you’re a minor.
But Hawaii has made the process pretty clear and streamlined, so let’s get started! To get your instructional permit, you’ll need to
make an appointment
at a local branch of the Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicle, Licensing, and Permits. Appointments are required for in-person visits—there may be some walk-in availability, but it’s not guaranteed. Long story short? Make an appointment! 
You’ll also need to bring all of your appropriate documentation (more on that later), and a parent or guardian who will be signing the Parental Consent Form. If neither of your parents can accompany you, then you can bring a notarized
Parental Consent Affidavit
instead. 
You’ll need to pass an eye exam, get fingerprinted, and pass a written exam. The test is a 30-question general knowledge exam based on the
Hawaii Driver’s Manual
. You have to get 24 out of 30 questions correct to pass, so make sure you study! 
After you’ve submitted your paperwork and passed your tests, you’ll just need to pay the
appropriate fees
, and you’re ready to roll!
Eventually, you’ll have to take a state-approved driver education course—but not to get your instructional permit. This stop is required when you’re ready to move on to the middle provisional licensing phase—but that’s down the road.
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What to bring to the DMV

You’ve got your appointment scheduled and you can’t wait to get your instructional permit—but you’ll want to make sure that you have all of your appropriate documents before you head out! 
You’ll be able to get your application and your parental consent form from the DMV office, but if your parent or guardian isn’t coming with you, then you’ll need to have your notarized Parental Consent Affidavit on hand before you go. 
You’ll also need to have several documents to prove the following: 
  • Legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Legal presence
  • Hawaii residency
Hawaii has an interactive and very handy
guide to the required documents
online, so make sure you check that out before you go to ensure that you have everything you’ll need. 
The fees for an instructional permit are about $15, and the Hawaii DMV doesn’t take debit or credit cards—so make sure you bring cash or a check. And since you’ll be taking an eye exam, don’t forget to bring your glasses or wear your contacts if you need them!
MORE: How education level affects car insurance

Hawaii learner’s permit regulations

You’ve passed your written exam, paid your fees, and you’re now the proud bearer of a Hawaii instructional permit. Way to go! 
But you’re not ready to jump into the deep end yet—here are the limits to what you can do with a Hawaii instructional permit: 
  • You must be in immediate possession of your permit at all times when you’re behind the wheel.
  • You and all the occupants of the vehicle must be wearing
    seat belts
    or be in the appropriate
    car seats
    at all times.
  • You must have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old in the front passenger seat at all times. But between the hours of 11 pm and 5 am, your parent or guardian must be in the front passenger seat. 
  • Any driver under the age of 18 is prohibited from using a mobile device when they’re driving, even if it’s in hands-free mode (unless there’s an emergency).
Your permit is valid for one year and can be renewed for another year within 30 to 90 days of it expiring. You’ll need to successfully hold it for 180 days before you can move on to the second phase to get your
Hawaii provisional license
To move up to a provisional license, you’ll need to do the following:
  • Take a state-approved driver education course and get your certificate of completion.
  • Pass a
    road test
    .
There’s a whole other set of regulations that apply to a provisional license—but you won’t have complete freedom until you have your graduated Hawaii license. To get that, you’ll need to have satisfactorily held your provisional license for six months with no pending violations that might lead to a license suspension or restriction. But no worries—you’ve got this! 
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