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Frequently Asked Questions - Texas Teen Driver

The Texas Department of Safety has the following requirements for obtaining an Instruction Permit:

• You must be at least 15 years old.
• You must be enrolled in a public or private school and have attended school for at least 80 days preceding the date of application.
• You have been enrolled for at least 45 days and are currently enrolled in a program that prepares people to pass the high school equivalency exam.
• You have obtained a high school diploma or an equivalent.
• You must have the signature of your parent or guardian.
• You must have a completion certificate for the classroom portion of a state-approved driver’s education course.
• You must be able to pass the written exam and vision screening.
• You must pay the Instruction Permit fee of $5.

The Instruction Permit is valid until your next birth date, plus one year. It cannot be renewed as an instruction permit but you can renew it as a license once you have passed the driving skills test.

As of March 1, 2010, the State of Texas requires all drivers under age 25 years of age to complete an Adult Driver Education course.

Teens under 18 can choose to take a driver’s education course at a public high school or through a private driving school that includes the following:

• 32 hours of classroom instruction
• 7 hours of behind-the-wheel training
• 7 hours of observing another driver in a motor vehicle

The Department of Public Safety has also approved Texas Parent-Taught Drivers Education (PTDE) courses, which can be taken at home. Your parent must submit the Request For a Parent Taught Driver Education Packet to the Department of Public Safety.

The Texas Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program has the following restrictions:

Instruction Permit—Phase One Restrictions
• You must be accompanied by a person who is 21 years of age or older at all times.

Provisional License—Phase Two Restrictions
• During the first six months you cannot have more than one passenger under age 21 who is not a member of your family.

• During the first six months you cannot drive between midnight and 5 am unless:

1. You are driving to or from your place of employment
2. You are driving to or from school or a school-related activity
3. You are driving due to a medical emergency

• You are prohibited from using any type of wireless communication device while driving.

• Hardship License Restrictions
• You will be restricted to the timeframe and areas defined by the Department of Public Safety or court order.
• You are prohibited from using any type of wireless communication device while driving.

The State of Texas requires drivers to pass the following tests:

The Knowledge Test
• The written knowledge tests consists of multiple-choice questions about Texas traffic laws and highway signs. You must correctly answer 21 out of 30 questions in order to pass the test.

The Vision Test
• You must be able to pass the vision test with a visual acuity of 20/50 in the better without using corrective lenses for an unrestricted license. The standard visual field must be 140 degrees with both eyes open during the test. If your corrected vision is between 20/50 and 20/70, you may be issued a license with restrictions.

The Driving Skills Test
• During the driving skills test, you will be graded on four basic skills:

1. Control
2. Observation
3. Positioning
4. Signaling

• You will be tested on the following:

1. Parallel parking
2. Quick stop
3. Backing up
4. Recognizing stop sign and traffic signals
5. Use of clutch
6. Observance of intersections
7. Turns
8. Observance of right-of-way
9. Passing
10. Observance of proper lanes
11. Following
12. Posture

You must have a minimum score of 70 in order to pass the test.

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

• Fill out an application for an Instruction Permit or Application for Texas Driver License (Form DL-14A).

• You must submit the Verification of “Enrollment and Attendance in School Form” which is available only from the school you are enrolled in. It must be signed and stamped by school officials. This form is required for all applicant’s who are under 18.

• You must present the Parental Driver Education Affidavit and Classroom Instruction and Behind-the-Wheel Record for Parent-Taught Driver Education and your parent must be with you to submit these forms.

• You must submit a Certificate of Completion from an approved driver’s education program if you are under 18.

• You must provide proof of Adult Driver Education if you are between 18 and 24 years of age and do not have a valid driver’s license from another state or country.

• You must submit proof of liability insurance and Texas vehicle registration for all vehicles that you own.

• You must pay the permit or license fee with cash, check, money order or credit card.

Before applying for an Instruction Permit, you should study the Texas Drivers Handbook, which covers the following topics:

• Chapter 1—Your License to Drive
• Chapter 2—Vehicle Inspection and Registration
• Chapter 3—Safety (Financial) Responsibility
• Chapter 4—Right of Way
• Chapter 5—Signals, Signs and Markers
• Chapter 6—Signaling, Passing and Turning
• Chapter 7—Stopping, Standing or Parking
• Chapter 8—Speed and Speed Limits
• Chapter 9—Some Special Driving Situations
• Chapter 10-1—How Alcohol and Drugs Affect a Person’s Ability to Drive
• Chapter 10-2—Driving While Intoxicated, Driving Under the Influence of Drugs—Penalties
• Chapter 10-4—Zero Tolerance Law
• Chapter 11—Motor Vehicle Crashes
• Chapter 12—Pedestrian Safety
• Chapter 13—Bicycle Vehicle Law and Safety
• Chapter 14-1—Additional Safety Tips
• Chapter 14-7—Sharing the Road with Motorcycles
• Chapter 15-1—Special Requirements for Commercial Motor Vehicles
• Chapter 15-32—Safety Practices
• Chapter 15-36—Registration of Vehicles

The handbook can be found online at the Texas Department of Public Safety website or at any local driver license office.

The State of Texas has the following requirements to obtain a provisional or hardship license:

Provisional License—Phase Two Requirements
• You must be at least 16 years old.
• You must have held an Instruction Permit for six months.
• You must have completed an approved driver’s education course.
• You must pay the license fee of $16.

Hardship License Requirements
• You must be between 15 and 18 years old.
• You must complete an approved driver’s education course.
• You must have an acceptable reason for needing a hardship license that includes:

1. Your family is faced with an unusual economic hardship
2. You have a family member who is ill and requires transportation for medical treatment
3. Your are enrolled in a vocational educational program and you need a license to participate in the program
4. One of your immediate family members has died and the remaining family members need you to drive temporarily to carry on the household routines

• You must be able to pass the written, vision and driving skills tests.
• You must have an authorized adult sign the license form and they must present the signed form in person at the driver’s license office.
• You must pay the occupational license fee of $10.

Class A, Class B or Class C Driver License
• You must complete an approved driver’s education course if under 18.
• You must have completed the Texas Graduated License Program.
• You must provide proof of completion in an adult driver’s education program if you are between 18 and 24 years of age.
• You must pay the license fee of $16 if under 18 and the fee of $25 if 18 or older.

The Texas Department of Safety recommends that teen drivers and their parents have a written agreement that addresses the following:

1. Nighttime driving
2. Aggressive and reckless driving
3. Driving under the influence
4. Safety belts
5. Passengers
6. Cell phones
7. Distractions

The teen should promise to abide by all the rules of the agreement. Parents should promise to teach the teen to drive with patience and support and to be a positive role model by demonstrating safe driving.

The Texas Department of Safety requires applicants to provide proof of identity, U.S. citizenship or lawful presence and proof of Social Security number by submitting the following documents:

Proof of Identity—Primary Identification
(Must contain applicant’s complete name and date of birth)
• Texas driver license or identification certificate with photo within two years of the expiration date
• United States Citizenship Certificate of Certificate of Naturalization with photo (N-560, N-561, N-645, N-550, N-55G, N-570, or N-578)
• Unexpired Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) document (must have verifiable data and photo)
• U.S. Citizen Identification Card (I-179 or I-197)
• Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
• Temporary I-551 with ADIT Stamp on visa in foreign passport
• Temporary Resident Identification Card (I-688)
• Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
• U.S. Travel Document (I-327 or I-571)
• Advance Parole Document (I-512 or I-512L)
• I-94 stamped Section 208 Asylee with photo
• I-94 stamped Section 207 Refugee with photo
• American Indian Card (I-872)
• Northern Mariana Card (I-873)
• Foreign passport with visa (valid or expired) and I-94 form with undefined expiration date
• Foreign passport with visa (valid or expired) and I-94 form with defined expiration date
• United States military identification card for active duty, reserve or retired personnel with photo (must be unexpired)

Proof of Identity—Secondary Identification—Two secondary documents or one secondary document and two supporting documents
(Must contain applicant’s complete name and date of birth)
• Original or certified copy of birth certificated issued by an appropriate State Bureau of Vital Statics or equivalent agency from a U.S. state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia or a Canadian province. (Hospital birth records are not acceptable)
• Original or certified copy of U.S. Department of State Certification of Birth Abroad (FS-240, DS-1350 or FS-545)
• Original of certified copy of a court order with name of date of birth indicating official change of name and/or gender from a U.S. state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia or a Canadian province

Proof of Identity—Supporting Identification—One secondary document and two supporting documents
• Original Social Security card
• W-2 or 1099 forms
• Numident record issued by the Social Security Administration
• Temporary receipt for Texas driver license or identification card
• Driver license or identification card issued by another U.S. state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia or a Canadian province (unexpired or within two years from the date of expiration)
• Texas driver license or identification card (expired more than two years)
• School records, report cards or photo identification cards
• Military records (DD-214)
• Valid U.S. military dependant identification card
• Original or certified copy of marriage license or divorce decree (U.S. or foreign jurisdiction; documents not in English must have a certified translation with it)
• Voter registration card
• Pilot’s license
• Concealed handgun license
• Professional license issued by a Texas state agency
• Identification card issued by a government agency
• Valid consular document issued by a state or national government
• Texas Inmate identification card or similar form of identification issued by the Texas Department of Corrections
• Texas Department of Criminal Justice parole or mandatory release certificate
• Federal inmate identification card
• Federal parole or release certificate
• Medicare of Medicaid card
• Selective Service card
• Immunization records
• Tribal membership card from federally recognized tribe
• Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood
• Unexpired foreign passport
• Auto, home or life insurance policy (valid for past two years continuously)
• Texas Vehicle title
• Current Texas vehicle registration
• Current Texas boat registration or title
• Veteran’s Administration card
• Hospital issued birth record issued by the government from a U.S. state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia or a Canadian province

Proof of United States Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence
• Certificate of birth issued by U.S. state, U.S. territory or District of Columbia
• Department of State Certification of birth issued to U.S. citizens born abroad (FS-240, DS-1350 or FS-545)
• Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (N-560, N-561 or N-645)
• U.S. Department of Justice INS U.S. Citizenship Identification card (I-197)
• U.S. Department of Justice INS U.S. Citizenship Identification card for Resident Citizen of the U.S. (I-179)
• U.S. passport
• Valid Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
• Passport if I-95 stamped “Approved I-551”
• Permit to Re-enter (I-327)
• I-94 or passport stamped with “Section 207” or “Refugee”
• I-94 or passport stamped with “Section 208” or “Asylee”
• Refugee Travel Document (I-571)
• Employment Authorization document (I-688 coded 274a.12(a)(3)
• Employment Authorization document (I-688B coded 274a.12(a)(5)
• Employment Authorization document (I-766 with category A3 or A03)
• Employment Authorization document (I-766 with category A5 or A05)

Proof of Social Security Number
(Must have Social Security number on the document presented)
• Federal issued original Social Security Card
• Health card (member number must represent Social Security number)
• Pilot’s license
• Military identification (active, reserve and dependent status)
• Peace officer’s license issued by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standard and Education
• Military DD-214
• Medicare or Medicaid cards
• Certified college or university transcript designating number as Social Security number
• Veteran’s Administration card with pre-printed Social Security number on card

Anyone who has applied for or been denied a Social Security number must complete a Social Security Affidavit.

The State of Texas has the following restrictions for new and underage drivers:

• All Instruction Permit holders are prohibited from using any type of hand-held cell phone during the first six months while driving.

• All drivers under 18 are prohibited from using any type of wireless communication device while driving.

• All drivers are prohibited from using a hand-held device in a school-crossing zone.

• School bus operators are prohibited from using a cell phone when driving if children are present.

The following cities in Texas have passed distracted driving laws that include the following:

• Amarillo has banned the use of all electronic devices while driving.
• Stephenville has banned the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving.
• El Paso has banned talking on a cell phone or texting while driving.
• McAllen has banned any Internet related activity and text messaging while driving.
• Missouri City and San Antonio have banned texting while driving.

In addition to the above, the cities of Alvin and Burnet have banned the use of cell phones and texting while driving through a school zone.