How to Get a Kentucky Learner’s Permit

Kentucky residents can apply for their learner’s permit at a Kentucky State Police office once they turn 16.
Written by Jaya Anandjit
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
In Kentucky, you can apply for a learner’s permit when you turn 16 years old. Applicants will need to study and provide a series of documents to complete the test.
  • Getting a learner’s permit is the first of three steps in Kentucky’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program for underage drivers.
  • After turning 16, Kentucky residents can take a multiple-choice written test and a vision test to obtain a learner’s permit for a $10 fee.
  • Once you’ve acquired your Kentucky learner’s permit, you’ll be able to drive with certain restrictions—for example, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21.
To help you through the process of getting your Kentucky learner’s permit all the way through to getting your full unrestricted license, we’ve prepared this handy guide. Let’s get started!

How to get a Kentucky learner’s permit

To apply for a learner’s permit in Kentucky, you must be at least 16 years old. While some states allow residents to begin the process at 14 or 15, Kentucky’s future drivers can’t start the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program anytime before their 16th birthday. 
All applicants under the age of 18 must participate in Kentucky’s GDL program, which includes a three-step licensing process. The first step in the program is the learner’s permit phase, which includes a multiple-choice written test and a vision test. To take your learner’s permit test, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with the
Kentucky State Police driver testing branch
In some other states, applicants are required to practice driving or take a driver’s ed course before they get their learner’s permit. In Kentucky, prospective drivers are required to complete a practice driving log with their parents and an educational course after they acquire their learner’s permit. These are prerequisites to the second and third parts of the GDL program—the intermediate licensing phase and the full unrestricted licensing phase. 
Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to get your learner’s permit.
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What to bring to your Kentucky learner’s permit test

You can take your Kentucky learner’s permit test at a Kentucky State Police driver testing branch. Once you schedule your appointment, you’ll need to bring the following documents to verify your identity, residency, and school compliance:
  • Social Security card
  • Original certified birth certificate
  • Proof of Kentucky residence 
  • Application signed by a parent/guardian
  • School compliance verification documents (required by Kentucky’s
    No Pass/No Drive
There is a $10 fee to get your Kentucky learner’s permit, so you’ll need to bring a credit card, cash, or check to cover the cost. Once you pay this fee, they’ll take your driver’s license photo and your fingerprints before administering the vision test.
The last step in the learner’s permit process is the knowledge test, which consists of 40 multiple-choice questions. You’ll need to get at least 32 questions correct for a passing grade of 80% to get your learner’s permit. This is where the
Kentucky Driver’s Manual
and your parent’s tips will come in handy.
MORE: How education level affects car insurance

Kentucky learner’s permit regulations

Once you get your Kentucky learner’s permit, you can hop behind the wheel and begin preparing for your intermediate licensing phase! But you won’t be able to cruise Kentucky roads on your own just yet. Kentucky learner’s permit drivers need to have a valid supervisor in the passenger seat of the car at all times while driving.
Kentucky state laws outline the following limits on learner’s permit drivers
  • You must be accompanied by a licensed driver of 21 years or older in the front passenger seat of the vehicle at all times.
  • You are restricted to one unrelated passenger under the age of 20.
  • You cannot drive between 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. (exclusions: driving for school, work, or emergencies).
  • You will not receive credit if you do not comply with the No Pass/No Drive law.
  • Moving violations can restart the 180-day period between obtaining a learner’s permit and applying for an intermediate license.
  • You must not consume alcohol or drugs while driving—drivers under 21 are subject to a 0.02% blood alcohol concentration.
To move onto the second step of the GDL program—the intermediate licensing phase—student drivers must complete the following:
  • Fill out a driving log with 60 hours of parent-supervised driving (including 10 hours at night)
  • Secure your name on a car insurance policy with Kentucky’s minimum car insurance requirements 
  • Obtain a GDL skills test eligibility letter within seven days of the print date
Learner’s permit holders will need to wait 180 days after getting their permit to apply for an intermediate license, so you’ll have some time to get everything in order before you head back to your local Kentucky State Police driver testing branch for your driving test. 
The last step in the Kentucky GDL program is the full unrestricted licensing phase, which includes the completion of a four-hour drivers education course, plus another 180-day waiting period. During this time, drivers are expected to consistently practice their on-road skills, although they do not need an accompanying supervisor if they have their intermediate license. 
If you happen to fail the final test in the GDL program, you’ll need to wait seven days before taking it again.
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers
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