How to Get a Wisconsin Learner’s Permit

You’re able to apply for a Wisconsin learner’s permit at age 15—but not before you fulfill these key requirements.
Written by Katherine Duffy
Reviewed by Bellina Gaskey
You can apply for a
learner’s permit at 15 years old, but you’ll need to enroll in a certified driver’s program, complete at least one behind-the-wheel session, and fulfill a few additional requirements before writing the permit tests.
  • Wisconsin learner’s permit applicants under 18 need to fulfill additional requirements, such as enrolling in a certified driver education program. 
  • Applicants must score at least 80% on their driving knowledge test to get the permit. 
  • You need to have a learner’s permit for at least six months and log a certain number of driving hours before applying for a probationary license. 

How to get a Wisconsin learner’s permit 

Wisconsin driving age
to qualify for a learner’s permit (called a Wisconsin Class D instruction permit) is 15 years old. When this milestone finally comes around, you can apply for your first learner’s permit. 
If you’re under 18 when you apply for your permit, you’ll need to enroll in a certified driver education program and have your instructor sign your MV3001 form. Plus, your first behind-the-wheel lesson must be completed within 60 days of the date signed on your MV3001. 
While you can head to the DMV once the previous requirements are satisfied, you’ll need to complete 30 hours of classroom time, six hours of behind-the-wheel drivers training, and six hours of in-car observation to complete the driver’s ed program. 
You’ll also need to prove that you’re enrolled in high school or an equivalent program, or that you’ve graduated from this level of education. If you’re still completing high school or an equivalent program, you’ll have to prove that you attend class regularly. 
The last thing you’ll need as an under-18 applicant is the signature of a parent or guardian, and in certain circumstances, you’ll need proof of
car insurance
Once you have all of these requirements in order, you’re ready to start the application process with your local DMV! 
MORE: How education level affects car insurance

What to bring to the DMV 

Start this process off by checking the
hours of your local DMV
and making sure that the service center you’re going to administers Wisconsin Class D instruction permits.  
From there, gather documents to show that you fulfill all of the requirements for holding a Wisconsin Class D instruction permit. Let’s take a closer look at the documents you’ll need: 
  • Proof of US citizenship or resident status 
  • Proof of name and date of birth​
  • Proof of identity (e.g., Wisconsin ID or US Passport)​
  • Proof of Wisconsin residency
    if you’re over 18 years old (paycheck, utility bill, phone bill, etc).  
  • Your Social Security number
  • The $35 licensing fee. ​​Wisconsin DMV customer service centers accept cash, checks, money orders, debit, and credit
After submitting the required documents, you’ll have to complete a 50-question multiple choice knowledge test and answer at least 40 of these questions correctly. You’ll also be required to take a vision test to ensure your vision meets the requirements for safe driving. 
If you pass both tests, the DMV will take your picture, and you’ll be issued your new learner’s permit! It will be valid for 18 months. 

Wisconsin learner’s permit regulations 

Once you’ve left the DMV after securing your learner’s permit, you’re ready to drive on the open road—but not without some extra constraints. 
Wisconsin state law places the following limits on drivers with learner licenses: 
  • You must be accompanied by a qualified instructor, parent, guardian, or spouse 19 or older in the passenger seat. You may also drive with a licensed adult who is 21 or older
  • You must maintain sobriety at all times
  • You must always wear a seat belt
Before you can move on to obtain a probationary license, you’ll need to meet the following requirements: 
  • Hold your permit for at least six months (7 days if you’re over 18 years old)
  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have an adult sponsor (if you’re under 18)
  • Successfully complete a driver education course
  • Log 50 hours of behind the wheel experience (10 of those must occur at night)
After you’ve satisfied all of these
driver's license requirements
, you can head back to the DMV to schedule your driving skills test and get your probationary license. For the next 9 months, you’ll need to adhere to these requirements: 
  • You can drive alone, but you are limited to only one passenger other than your immediate family or a qualified adult.
  • No driving between midnight to 5 a.m., unless traveling between home and school or work.
These restrictions can be extended if you get a traffic ticket, your probationary license is suspended or revoked, or if you violate one of these restrictions. 
After two years of holding the probationary license, these restrictions no longer apply and you’ll be granted a full Wisconsin driver’s license! Watch for notification of this in the mail before you stop adhering to the above requirements—any legal or traffic violations could negatively impact your car insurance costs for years to come. 
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers
“I was worried that adding my 16 year old daughter would spike my insurance rates. I called and spoke to Tim, who was pleasant to work with and got me new rate savings.
really helped me save thousands.” —Marshall D. 
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