How to Get a New York Learner Permit

Getting an NYS learner permit is the first step in getting your driver’s license, but you must be 16 years of age and must apply in person at your local DMV.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Brittni Brinn
Teens living in the Empire State are eligible to apply for a learner permit—the very first step in getting your New York State driver’s license—as soon as they turn 16 years old. You must apply in person at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 
Unless you live in Manhattan and rely entirely on the subway, chances are that getting your NYS driver’s license is a top priority. But before you can enjoy the freedom of the open road, you’ll need to practice driving with a learner permit. 
In this handy guide, we’ll cover all the steps to getting your New York permit, as well as the rules and regulations permit holders have to observe.

How to get a New York learner permit

First things first: you have to be old enough. In order to qualify for a learner permit in the state of New York, you have to be at least sixteen years old—no exceptions. 
Once you celebrate that sweet sixteen milestone, you can head to your local DMV to apply in person. Learner permit applications cannot be done online. Keep in mind that you may need to make an appointment to avoid extreme wait times. 
At the DMV, you’ll need to take a written driver’s test. You can prepare ahead of time by reading the
New York State driver’s manual.
You’ll also need to pass a
vision test
that shows you have visual acuity of at least 20/40 with or without glasses or contacts.

What to bring to the DMV

Aside from a wealth of knowledge about New York’s road rules and regulations, and a winning smile for your permit photo, you’ll need to bring the following items with you to the DMV when applying for a learner permit:
And that’s it! Your written test will be graded immediately, and if you pass, you’ll fill out an application form, snap your picture, and be on your way! A brand new permit will arrive via the USPS mail a few days later.
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New York learner permit regulations

Having a learner permit means it’s finally time to get behind the wheel of a car—but not without an appropriate chaperone! 
New York state law sets the following limits on drivers with learner permits: 
  • You must be accompanied by a supervising driver age 21 or older with a valid license
  • No driving on any park streets in New York City
  • No driving on bridges or tunnels under Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority jurisdiction
  • No driving on the Cross County, Saw Mill River, Hutchinson River, or Taconic State parkways in Westchester County
  • No driving in a road test area for the DMV
If you are under the age of 18 when you get your permit, you must have it for at least six months before you can apply for your driver’s license. 
Then, once you pass your road test, you can upgrade to a provisional license for drivers under the age of 18. With this license, there are restrictions surrounding driving after 9:00 p.m. and the number of passengers allowed in your vehicle. 
Regardless of how old you are when you pass your road test—and whether or not your license is considered provisional—all new license holders are subject to a six-month probationary period. During this period, your license will be suspended for 60 days if you’re convicted of any of the following violations:
  • Reckless driving
  • Following too closely
  • Speeding or participating in a speed contest
  • Using a mobile or portable electronic device (for example a smartphone, tablet, GPS, or MP3 player) while driving
  • Two or more other moving violations
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers
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