How To Get Your License After 18
Applying for your license aged 18 or over is usually a little easier than applying as a 15 to 17-year-old. You still need to pass tests and provide proof of age/residency status, but depending on your state, there may be fewer steps and fewer restrictions.
How to Become a Licensed Driver After 18 Years of Age
Although the rules vary from state to state, there are a few rules that apply across most of the country, including:
Provide Proof of Age and Identity
You must be able to provide proof of your age and identity and will also need your Social Security Number.
Accepted documents include a passport or birth certificate. Diplomas and GED certifications may also be accepted in some states.
Drivers under the age of 18 need a parent to sign their application, but there are no such requirements for those 18 and above. You're an adult now, and you can apply on your own.
Provide Proof of Citizenship
You must be a legal resident of the state from which you want a license. As a US citizen, your passport or birth certificate should be all the proof you need. As a foreign citizen, you'll need a green card or a foreign passport and visa.
In some states, residency documents in your parent's name may be sufficient.
Requirements for First-Time Drivers
There are specific requirements for first-time drivers. These are usually more lenient than the requirements imposed on drivers under the age of 18, but you'll still be expected to jump through a few hoops.
As always, requirements vary by state, but you may be expected to complete a driver education course or hold a learner's permit for a specific length of time.
For more information on specific state requirements, take a look at the FAQs at the bottom of this article.
After completing the above steps, you must satisfy the remaining demands required in your state. These can include completing vision screening tests, a written test, and a driving test.
You will be tested on your practical driving skills and your knowledge of the road. You'll also be asked to pay a small application fee.
Restrictions for Drivers Over the Age of 18
Drivers under the age of 18 may be restricted with regards to when they can drive, where they can drive, and what passengers they can transport.
For instance, they are often forbidden from driving at night and from driving with any children in the vehicle. They may also need a parent or guardian to act as an accompanying driver when driving at certain times.
Once you reach 18, these requirements disappear.
Tips for Getting Your Driver's License If You're Over 18
The first step to getting your driver's license is to understand the rules in your state. As noted above, these can differ quite substantially, so it's worth knowing where you stand before you start the process.
Once you've gotten that out of the way, the following tips will help you with the rest of the process.
Check Your State's Handbook
All states have a driver's handbook that contains information on road signs, traffic signals, and the general rules of the road.
This book can be accessed for free through your state DMV website and will prepare you for the knowledge test.
Take a Driver Education Course
Driver education courses are available in all states and can be accessed through high schools and colleges. They are not always required to get your driver's license, but they are always helpful.
Driver education courses cover practical and theoretical knowledge, with the courses split between classroom learning and in-car education.
Get a Learner's Permit
A learner's permit can be used to practice driving under the supervision of a licensed adult driver. It may also be required as part of the license application process.
Every state has its own rules concerning how long you must hold a learner's permit before you can apply.
Get Plenty of Driving Practice
The more time you spend behind the wheel, the more comfortable you will feel and the easier the road test will become. Practice makes perfect, after all, so take every opportunity you can to get some driving experience.
Practice Specific Skills
If you struggle with parking, parallel parking, and other specific driving skills, focus your attention on these weak links. You'll be expected to learn all essential driving skills and failure to do so might lead to a failed examination.
You can practice parallel parking and other skills by taking a few cones to an empty parking lot.
You should also take multiple practice tests to prepare for the written exam. These tests are available through your local DMV office or website.
Take Your Test
When you have met your state licensing requirements, it's time to sit your driving test and get your full driver's license!
Benefits of Waiting Until Aged 18 to Apply for a Driver's License
In some US states, teens can get behind the wheel as young as 14 and the average age is 15 to 16. So, if it's possible to drive at this age, why would you wait until you're 18?
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and how eager you are to get behind the wheel. But there are several benefits to waiting:
You Will Save Money On Insurance
Teen drivers are in the highest risk category and are more likely to be involved in a serious car accident than any other age group.
An 18-year-old can still expect to pay high premiums when compared to older drivers, but there is a substantial difference between the rates charged to 15/16-year-olds and the ones charged to 18-year-olds.
New drivers are inexperienced and lack the skills and knowledge needed to deal with issues on the road. Young drivers are also more reckless and more inclined to take risks that place themselves and others in danger.
When these two demographics are combined, the risk increases significantly.
According to the CDC, drivers under the age of 20 are three times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than those aged 20 and other.
The risks decrease with every year, so a 15-year-old driver is much more likely to be involved in an accident than an 18-year-old driver.
If you want to keep your child safe, keep them off the road until they are a little older and more responsible.
You Don't Need a New Car or Driver's Education
Waiting a little longer gives you more time to save for a new car. It could also mean you will save cash by not paying for driver's education courses and other requirements imposed on young drivers.
It's Much Less Hassle
As soon as you reach 18 years of age, it becomes easier to get a driver's license. Depending on your state, you might be able to avoid mandatory driving practice and driving education courses. You can also skip the restricted license process, which can be frustrating for new drivers.
If you're driving while still at high school, you may struggle to find parking on campus and must navigate the rules set by your school.
Of course, the alternative is to not drive at all during those years, which is not the preferred option for many teens, but if your school is within walking distance, your parents/friends are happy to drive you around, and you don't need a car right now, consider waiting until you're 18 years old.
FAQs: Getting Your Driver's License Aged 18 or Older
Take a look below for some of the most commonly asked questions about becoming a licensed driver at 18+ in the United States.
Can You Get Your License At 18 Without A Permit In PA?
In Pennsylvania, drivers under the age of 18 must wait at least 6 months between getting their learner's permit and applying for their driver's license. In the interim, they are expected to complete at least 65 hours of supervised driving.
Drivers can skip this requirement. They can still apply for a learner's permit and use it to legally drive while studying for their test, but they don't need to complete those 65 hours of supervised driving.
How Do I Get My License After 18 In California?
New drivers in California are given a provisional driver’s license known as an instruction permit. This is also true for drivers over 18.
The good news is that you don't need to complete driver education or training.
To get a valid instruction permit, click here to complete an application for a California Driver's License or Identification Card.
How Do I Get My License After 18 In Texas?
In Texas, new drivers under the age of 18 must complete at least 32 hours of driver education. Drivers over 18 years of age simply need to pass a written exam, a behind-the-wheel test, and a vision exam while also paying the required fee.
How Do I Get My License After 18 In New York?
To obtain a NY driver's license aged 18 or over, simply complete an application form, pass a vision test, written test, and road test, and complete a 5-hour pre-licensing course.
Additional requirements apply for drivers under the age of 18.
Can I Get My License At 18 Without A Permit In NC?
To get a North Carolina driver license, you must apply in person at the NC Division of Motor Vehicles.
The rules requiring young drivers to get a limited learner permit only apply to those aged 15 to 17.