How to Get Your Pennsylvania Driver's License
The information below applies to: Pennsylvania Drivers Ed Online
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- The course is 100% online and can be completed from your mobile device or computer
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- You can sign-in and sign-out whenever you want. Your progress within the course is tracked so that can always start right where you left off.
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How to Get Your Pennsylvania Driver's License
The State of Pennsylvania uses three-stage graduated driver licensing program for all new drivers under the age of 18. This means that if you are under 18 you need to complete all three stages before you can receive your unrestricted driver's license. The three stages are:
- Learner's permit
- Junior license
- Unrestricted license
While this may seem like a lot to go through, these stages reward you for developing safe driving skills and for showing that you arere responsible behind the wheel. What does each of these stages entail?
What is involved in each of the three stages?
Before you apply for your permit, you’ll need to learn the rules of the road. Thankfully, you can find them all in one place, in the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual.
You may want to find a course that will walk you through all the necessary information. Choose one that’s flexible so that you can study whenever you have free time, wherever you may be. Since you will need to take an approved driver’s education course if you want to get your unrestricted license before you’re 18, you’ll simply get a jump-start on the process if you begin with an online course.
Before you can apply for a learner's permit you must get a physical examination. This can be done by your doctor, but you need to remember these two things:
A) You need to provide your Doctor the Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application (DL-180). The Doctor will then need to fill out the Physician's Report of Examination section of the Application.
B) The physical examination cannot be completed any earlier than six months before your 16th birthday. After the exam is completed it will only be valid for one year.
Apply for the Learner's Permit
When you’re ready you can decide which Driver License Center you’ll go to for the knowledge test and vision screening that you are required to pass before receiving your permit. You will need to bring the following original documents (you can find all the documents at www.dmv.pa.gov):
- Learner’s Permit Application (Form DL-180), with the Physician's Report of Examination, filled out
- Parent Consent Form filled out by your parent (Form DL-180TD)
- Your Social Security Card
- Check or money order in the appropriate amount, payable to PennDOT
You can apply for your learner’s permit as early as six months before you turn 16. You must take the knowledge test – and pass it – before you can receive your permit. The test has only 18 questions – but you need to answer 15 to be able to pass. The good news? All the information is in the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual, and you can even take practice tests online!
What if you fail the test? You can simply take it again – but you must wait at least one business day. You must have your permit for six months before you can take the road test to get your junior license.
Once you have your Learner's Permit you can start driving! But wait. If you are under 18, you must be accompanied by a driver who is at least 21 years of age – and who, of course, has a license. You can also drive with a parent, guardian, or spouse who is 18 years of age or older. Also, you cannot be behind the wheel from 11 pm to 5 am unless you have documentation stating that you need to go to employment or volunteer work. You’ll need to spend 65 hours behind the wheel, while supervised, to learn the necessary driving skills. At least ten of those hours have to be at night and five in bad weather. Remember to record those hours, because you’ll need to take a signed Certificate of Completion when you do your road test.
The Learner's Permit is valid for one year from the issue date.
After you have had your Learner's Permit for six months and completed the 65 hours of behind-the-wheel training you can go online to schedule a road test with PennDOT and apply for your Junior License.
Documents to take with you when you apply for a Junior Driver’s License
When going to take your road test, remember to take with you the following original documents (not copies):
- Your valid learner’s permit
- The completed Certification of Completion for 65 hours of behind the wheel training (DL-180C). (If your parent, guardian, or certified instructor is unable to go with you when you are taking the road test then the Certificate of Completion will need to be notarized.)
- Registration card for the vehicle you’ll use for the road test
- Proof of insurance for the vehicle you'll use for the road test
- Valid driver’s license of the person who accompanies you to the road test
What happens when you pass? You’ll get a temporary license that’s good for 15 days, and during that time you’ll receive your permanent license in the mail.
What happens if you fail the test? You’ll need to wait seven days before you can retake it. You have three opportunities to take the road test before you need to extend your learner’s permit.
Unrestricted (Senior) Driver’s License
When you turn 18 you will receive an Unrestricted Driver's License. But why wait?
If you are at least 17 1/2 years old you can apply to get your unrestricted driver's license early! You just have to meet these requirements:
- Held a Junior License for at least one year
- Have not been involved in a crash that you were responsible for in the past year
- Have not been convicted of violating any of vehicle codes in the past year
Once you meet the requirements all you have to do is submit an Application for Change from a Juinor Driver's License to a Regular Non-Commercial Driver's License (DL-59). The application must be signed by an official from the school where you completed your driver's education. Permission from your parent, guardian, or spouse must be represented by a notarized signature on the application.