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Frequently Asked Questions - Pennsylvania Teen Driver

All applicants must pass a vision test. Those who wear contact lenses or glasses are required to bring them to the test. Applicants should be aware that their license may have restrictions on it based on their vision, such as being required to use their corrective lenses when driving, being restricted to daylight hours only, or being required to use outside mirrors.

The written test will test the applicant’s knowledge of traffic laws and rules of the road, signs and safe driving practices. The test has 18 multiple choice questions and applicants must answer 15 correctly to pass. The test may be administered orally, or in Spanish; applicants must request these options. The Pennsylvania driver’s manual has all the information applicants need to know, and taking practice tests, like those found at www.freedmvpracticetests.com, will help the applicant pass this exam. An applicant who fails the written test will have to come back at a later date to try again.

Prior to receiving a junior driver’s license or a full driver’s license for those over 18, applicants must also pass a road test; this will test the applicant’s driving skills. Applicants over 18 should get as much practical experience as possible, while those under 18 must wait six months and have a minimum of 50 hours driving time before attempting the road test. Applicants must also schedule their road test; this may be done online at www.dmv.state.pa.us and by clicking on the link, “Schedule Your Driver’s Test.”

Pennsylvania does not require a formal driver’s education course in order to receive a driver’s license. The state does, however, require that those who are under the age of 18 have a mandatory 50 hours of driving practice prior to taking the road test for their junior license. These hours must be certified by the parent or guardian, and must be performed with a licensed driver who is 21 or older in the front passenger seat.

The junior license converts to a full driver’s license upon the driver’s 18th birthday. If the driver wishes to get a full license before that time, a state approved driver education course is required, along with certain other requirements.

As a note, neither the driver education course nor the hour requirements are necessary for those who are over the age of 18.

Applicants must bring the completed application form DL-180 and the completed form DL-180TD for those under 18 when they first come to get a learner’s permit. If the underage applicant’s parent or guardian is unable to be there, the form must be filled out and notarized, and proof of relationship must be provided.

Applicants must show proof of identity and residency when they apply for a Pennsylvania learner’s permit or driver’s license. US citizens must bring their original social security card, which may not be laminated, and one of the following:

• Certified birth certificate with raised seal
• Active US Passport
• Pennsylvania issued photo identification card
• Certificate of US citizenship
• Certificate of Naturalization, or
• US Military photo identification card

Applicants over the age of 18 must also bring two of the following to establish residency:

• Current utility bills, including water, power and gas
• Lease agreement or mortgage documents
• Current weapons permit, or
• W-2 form or other tax records

The DMV will not accept any photocopies as proof of identification. Non-US citizens may visit www.dmv.state.pa.us for identity and residency requirements.

Those who are taking the road test must bring the following documents with them:

• A valid learner’s permit
• A valid registration card for the vehicle the road test will be taken in
• Proof of insurance for the vehicle the road test will be taken in
• A certificate of 50 hours driving practice, for those under the age of 18
• The valid driver’s license of the parent, guardian or spouse over the age of 18, or other driver over the age of 21 who accompanies the applicant to the testing facility.

These documents must be originals; no photocopies will be accepted.

The first step in getting a Pennsylvania driver’s license is by applying for a learner’s permit. This permit is valid for one year, and allows the beginning driver to practice the skills that are necessary to pass a road test for a driver’s license. A learner’s permit is required for all drivers who have never been licensed before, and has the following requirements:

• Applicants must be at least 16 years old.
• Must fill out an application Form DL-180, Non-Commercial Learner’s Permit Application
• Applicants must have their doctor fill out and sign the medical form on the back of the Form DL-180
• If the applicant is younger than 18 years old, a parent, guardian, spouse or person who is standing as a parent must also complete the Parent or Guardian Consent Form DL-180TD. Like the permit application, this form is found in the driver’s manual
• Applicants must pass a vision test
• Applicants must pass a written test that will test their knowledge of signs, driving rules and laws, and safe driving practices.

Once a learner’s permit is received, applicants under the age of 18 must hold it for six months before taking the skills test, and receiving a junior driver’s license. This is a mandatory minimum time requirement that will allow young drivers to practice their skills and achieve the minimum hours driven requirement to take the road test.

A learner’s permit allows a learning driver to:

• Drive between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. with a driver who is 21 years old or older and licensed in Pennsylvania, or with a parent, guardian or spouse who is at least 18 years old, who is sitting in the front passenger seat
• Drive between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. with a parent, guardian or spouse who is licensed in Pennsylvania and at least 18 years old, who is sitting in the front passenger seat
• Carry as many passengers in a vehicle as the vehicle has seatbelts

These restrictions pertain to student drivers who are under 18 years of age.

A junior license also has restrictions for a young driver. These restrictions do not allow the driver to:

• Drive between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse who is at least 18 years old and licensed in Pennsylvania, or
• Carry more passengers than the vehicle has seatbelts for

Pennsylvania does allow an exception to the hours a junior driver may drive alone. If the driver is a member of a volunteer fire department, or is employed during the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., or is involved in public or charitable service, the driver may drive alone with a notarized affidavit from an employer, fire chief or supervisor that shows a schedule of activity.

• This license expires on the driver’s eighteenth birthday. However, once the holder has had this license for a full year, a full driver’s license may be applied for.