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Frequently Asked Questions - Tennessee Teen Driver

The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security recommends that teen and parent have a written agreement that outlines the following:

1. Driving privileges and restrictions
2. Driving with passengers
3. Driving at night or in inclement weather
4. Obeying the traffic laws
5. Not to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
6. No driving while talking on a cell phone or texting

Parents should promise to be patient while helping the teen driver learn how to safely operate a motor vehicle and be available for practice driving on a regular basis.

When applying for an instruction permit or driver’s license, you will need to do the following:

• Fill out an application for a permit or license.

• Your parent or legal guardian must sign the Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation” form if you are under 18.

• Submit a Certificate of Compulsory School Attendance (Form SF1010) if you are under 18 and have not graduated from high school or have a GED certificate.

• Certification of practice driving experience must be made on the official form (SF-1256). The form must be signed by a parent, legal guardian or licensed driving instructor.

• You must sign a sworn affidavit in the presence of a Driver License Examiner or Notary Public if you have never been issued a Social Security number.

To obtain a Hardship License, Intermediate Restricted, Intermediate Unrestricted or Regular Driver License in Tennessee, applicants must meet the following requirements:

Class H—Hardship License
• You must be at least 14 years old.
• You must mail proof of hardship with a Hardship License application to the Driver Services Administrative Office for evaluation.
• If you are approved, you must pass a vision screening, knowledge test and road skills test.
• For a first-time license, you must be in compliance with the Compulsory School Attendance and Satisfactory Progress Law.
• You must have proof of completion in a state-approved driver education course if you have not held a Learner Permit for at least three months.
• You must pay the license fee of $9.00

The Hardship License will expire on your 16th birthday, regardless of age at the time of approval. A Class H License may be used as an instructional permit for Class D vehicles when you turn 15.

First Level—Intermediate Restricted License
• You must be at least 16 years old.
• You must have held a Learner Permit for 180 days.
• You must not have any driving offenses that add up to more than six points on your driving record during the 180 days preceding your application.
• You must have verification from a parent, legal guardian of licensed driving instructor stating that you completed 50 hours of practice driving, with 10 hours done at night.
• You must be able to pass the road skills test.
• You must pay the license fee of $24.50.

Second Level—Intermediate Unrestricted License
• You must be at least 17 years old.
• You must have held an Intermediate Restricted License for one year.
• You must not have accumulated more than six points on your driving record.
• You must not have been found at fault for a traffic accident.
• You must not have two safety belt violations.
• You must pay the license fee of $2.00.

Final Level—Regular Driver License
• You must be at least 18 years old or have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, whichever is sooner.
• You must pay the license fee of $8.00

The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security has the following requirements for obtaining a Learner Permit (Class PD License):

• You must be at least 15 years old.
• You must have your parent or legal guardian sign the “Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation” form.
• You must have a Certificate of Compulsory School Attendance Form signed by a school official and valid for 30 days.
• You must be able to pass a written knowledge and vision test.
• You must pay the permit fee of $10.50.

The Learner Permit (Class PD License) is valid for one year.

The State of Tennessee has the following restrictions:

Learner Permit (Class PD License)
• You can only drive between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm when accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, driving instructor or licensed driver who is 21 years or older.
• You are prohibited from driving between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am.
• You must carry your Tennessee Learner Permit with you at all times.
• You and your passengers must wear a safety belt at all times.
• You are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

Intermediate Restricted License
• You can only drive alone between the hours of 6 am and 11 pm.

• You can only have one other passenger in the vehicle unless:

1. One or more of the passengers is 21 or older and has a valid unrestricted license.
2. The passengers are one of your siblings residing in the same house and you are going to or from school. You must have written permission from your parent or guardian to transport your siblings.

• You are prohibited from driving between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am unless:

1. You are accompanied by your parent or guardian.
2. You are accompanied by a licensed driver who is 21 or older and has been designated by your parent or guardian. The designation must be in writing and in your possession.
3. You are driving to or from a school-sponsored activity or event and you have written permission from your parent or guardian to attend the activity or event.
4. You are driving to or from work and have written permission from your parent or guardian identifying the place of employment and authorizing you to travel to and from work.
5. You are driving to or from hunting or fishing between the hours of 4 am and 6 am and you have a valid hunting or fishing license in your possession.

• You and your passengers must wear a safety belt at all times.

• You are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

Intermediate Unrestricted License
• You and your passengers must wear a safety belt at all times.
• You are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

Hardship License
• You can only drive during daylight hours (not earlier than 5 am or later than 7 pm).
• You can only travel to the authorized location as specified in the approval letter.
• Passengers are limited to members of your immediate family.
• You must travel by the most direct route (mileage limitation of 25 miles one way).
• You are prohibited from towing another vehicle or trailer.
• You are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

Before applying for a Restricted Driver’s License or Hardship License, you must complete a state-approved driver’s education program, which includes the following:

• 30 hours of classroom instruction
• 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training

The classroom instruction focuses on learning the rules of the road and vehicle safety.

What tests must I pass?
The State of Tennessee requires drivers to pass the following tests:

Written Knowledge Test
• The written knowledge test consists of multiple-choice questions about traffic signs and signals, safe driving principles, rules of the road and drugs and alcohol. You must correctly answer 24 out of 30 questions in order to pass the test. If you fail the test, you are required to wait seven days before taking the test again.

Vision Screening
• You must be able to pass the vision screening with at least 20/40 in each eye separately and both eyes together. If you fail to meet the standard, you must have an eye care specialist complete the Eye Specialist Form and submit it to the Driver Improvement Section for review.

Road Skills Test
• The driver license examiner will be observing how well you do the following:

1. Prepare to drive
2. Start your vehicle
3. Control your vehicle
4. Handle intersections
5. Make left and right turns
6. Obey traffic signals and posted signs
7. Stop quickly
8. Back the vehicle up
9. Judge distance
10. Communicate to other drivers
11. Share the road with others
12. Change your speed to suit the situation

You must have less than six errors in order to pass the road skills test. You may retake the test after mandatory practice times determined by the number of errors you made.

All teen drivers under the age of 18 may have their license revoked for the following reasons:

• Drug or alcohol conviction (regardless of motor vehicle involvement)
• Quitting school
• Non-compliance with school progress requirements
• Conviction of a weapons violation

As of July 1, 2009, all drivers are prohibited from reading, writing or sending a text message while driving.

The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security requires applicants to provide proof of citizenship, legal presence, identity and residency by submitting the following documents (no photocopies will be accepted):

Proof of U.S. Citizenship, Lawful Permanent Resident Status or Legal Presence in the U.S.
• Official birth certificate issued by a U.S. state, jurisdiction or U.S. territory (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rick, Swain’s Island or U.S. Virgin Islands) (Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010 will not be accepted.)
• U.S. government-issued certified birth certificate
• U.S. Certificate of Birth Abroad (DS-1350 or FS-545
• Report of Birth Abroad of a citizen of the U.S. (FS-240)
• Valid unexpired U.S. passport
• Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561)
• Certificate of Naturalization (N-550, N-570 or N-578)
• U.S. Citizen Identification Card (I-197 or I-179)

Proof of Lawful Resident Status
• Permanent Resident Alien Card (I-551)
• Foreign passport stamped by the U.S. government “Processed for I-551”
• Permanent resident Re-entry Permit (I-327)
• Arrival and Departure form I-94 with “Temporary I-551” stamp with passport holder’s photo affixed
• Travel Document issued to Permanent Residents (I-327)
• Travel Document issued to Refugees (I-571)
• Form I-94 stamped with: Asylee, Parolee or Parole, Refugee, Asylum, HP Humanitarian Parolee or PIP Public Interest Parolee

Proof of Identity
Primary Identification (Must be original or certified copy with full name and date of birth)
• U.S. driver license, learner permit, or identification card with photo, license from another country or U.S. Department of State driver’s license (Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010 will not be accepted.)
• Original or certified birth certificate with official seal issued by an authorized government agency such as the State Board of Health or the Bureau of Vital Statistics (Hospital-issued certificates are not acceptable)
• Foreign birth certificate not issued in English must be translated and accompanied by a Certificate of Accurate Translation
• Marriage license or certificate with full name and date of birth (Must be original or certified copy registered after the marriage)
• Federal census record with full name and date of birth
• Applicant’s own child’s birth certificate (Must include the applicant’s full name and date of birth, not just the age of the parent at the time of the child’s birth)
• Adoption decree with full name and date of birth
• Court decree for legal change of name with judge’s original signature or and/or official court seal
• Confirmation of date of birth as recorded in court document with judge’s original signature and/or official court seal

United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) Documentation
• Military identification active duty, retiree or reservist (DD Form 2 or 2A)
• Military discharge papers (DD-214)
• Military dependent identification card (spouse or children of active military personnel)
• Certificate of Naturalization (N-550, N-570, N-578)
• Certificate of Citizenship (N-560, N-561, N-645)
• Employment Authorization card (I-766)
• Northern Mariana Card
• American Department of Indian Affairs Tribal Card
• U.S. Citizen Identification Card (I-179, I-197)
• Temporary Resident Identification Card (I-688)
• Travel Documents Record of Arrival and Departure (I-94)
• Border Crossing Identification (I-586)
• Nonimmigrant Visa/Border Crossing Card (DSP-150)
• U.S. Re-entry Permit (I-327)
• Refugee I-94 Record of Arrival and Departure stamped "Refugee”
• Refugee Travel Document (I-571)
• Canadian Immigration Record and Visa or Record of Landing (IMM 100)
• Canadian Department of Indian Affairs issued identification card

Proof of Identity
Secondary Identification
• Computerized check stub (Must include full name pre-printed on the stub)
• Union membership card (Must include full name with photo and/or Social Security number
• Employer issued identification with photo and/or Social Security number
• Computer printout of bank statement, saving account statement or loan documents
• Social Security card (Must be original)
• Printout or benefits statements from Social Security Administration
• Social Security check or verification of Social Security check by direct deposit
• Health insurance card, health insurance policy or payment statements
• Medicaid, Medicare or TennCare health insurance card
• IRS or state tax forms, W-2 forms, property tax receipts
• United States or foreign military records
• Selective Service cards, military leave and earnings statement, military assignment orders
• School records or transcript of grades
• High school diploma or GED
• Elementary immunization records
• Vehicle title or vehicle registration
• Vehicle bill or sale or vehicle purchase contract

Proof of Tennessee Residency—List A
(Must submit two documents with full name and resident address, no P.O. boxes)
• Current utility bill (electric, water, gas, cable or telephone landline) (wireless bills cannot be accepted)
• Current bank statement (Internet bank statements will be accepted if stamped and dated by local bank teller as an active account.)
• Current mortgage or rental contract or receipt for deed of sale of property
• Current employer verification of residence address or a letter from employer on company letterhead with original signature (If employer s not have letterhead, signature of employer must be notarized)
• Current paycheck, check stub, employment identification or badge if address is included
• Current auto, life or health insurance policy (wallet cards cannot be accepted)
• Current driver license or identification issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety to the parent, legal guardian or spouse of applicant
• Current Tennessee motor vehicle registration or title
• Current Tennessee voter registration
• Current IRS tax reporting W-2 form within last 12 months
• Receipt for personal property or real estate taxes paid within past year
• Photo student identification and acceptable documentation from the Dean or Bursar office stating that the student lives on campus

Proof of Tennessee Residency—List B
(Must submit one document from List A and one document from List B with full name and resident address, no P.O. boxes)
• Individual Taxpayer Identification Number issued by the IRS
• Form I-94 issued by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service
• Employment Authorization Card issued by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (I-766)
• I-551 issued by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service

All documents must be current and dated within the past four months. Documents from the Internal Revenue Service must be from the current tax year. Both documents may not be from the same source, i.e. gas and water bill from the same utility company.

Before applying for a learner’s permit, you should study the Tennessee Comprehensive Driver License Manual, which covers the following topics:

• Section A Chapter 1—Your License
• Section A Chapter 2—Applying For Your License
• Section A Chapter 3—Intermediate Licenses For Drivers Under 18 (Graduated License Procedures)
• Section A Chapter 4—The Examinations
• Section B Chapter 1—Getting Familiar With Your vehicle
• Section B Chapter 2—Tennessee Safety Belt Laws
• Section B Chapter 3—Traffic Signs and Signals
• Section B Chapter 5—Rules of the Road
• Section B Chapter 6—Driving at Night and in Inclement Weather Conditions
• Section B Chapter 7—Alcohol, Other Drugs and Driving
• Section C Chapter 1—Defensive Driving and Road Rage
• Section C Chapter 2—Special Driving Conditions and Your Vehicle
• Section C Chapter 3—Sharing the Road Safely
• Section C Chapter 4—Helping Teens and New Drivers Learn to Drive

The manual can be found online at the Tennessee Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security website or at any local Driver Service Center.