Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Arkansas
Applying for a driver's license is a unique process for teen drivers. There are special restrictions that apply to different age groups for all teens younger than 18.
Fortunately for you, in Arkansas the Office of Driver Services offers three graduated licenses to help you gain experience before earning your Class D unrestricted driver's license.
Once you reach the age of 14 you may qualify for one of three restricted driver's licenses:
- Instruction Permit
- Learners License
- Intermediate License
As a teen driver of 14 years old, you may begin with the instruction permit. This is a restricted license designed to help you begin learning the rules of the road. Understandably, safe driving is learned and the sooner you begin practicing the more experience you'll have.
But driving at 14 can be dangerous, so the restrictions on your instruction permit include having a licensed driver over the age of 21 with you at all times. For passenger safety, every passenger must have a seat belt. This information and more is found in your driver's handbook; study hard because you'll need to pass the written test.
The second level of licensing, a Learners Permit, is a restricted license offered to drivers 14 to 16 years old. To get this license, you must pass additional testing―road skills plus the regular written and vision tests.
Finally, an Intermediate License means you have graduated beyond the instruction and learners permit. In fact, you are just one step away from getting your unrestricted Class D license.
An Intermediate License has fewer restrictions; for example, you don't need an adult driver in your passenger seat. To qualify for this graduated license you must be between 16 and 18 years old.
If you began driving at 14, you should have at least four years of driving experience while using your learning licenses. Because inexperience is a primary cause of accidents, the four-step licensing program gives you plenty of practice time.
Ultimately, when you are 18 years old you may be eligible for a non-restricted Class D license.
All teens older than age of 18 may be eligible for the Class D unrestricted drivers license. If this is your first drivers license, you must have graduated through the licensing system and passed the Intermediate License level. The ODS wants to be sure you have passed all the necessary testing as well as practice time during the graduated license program.
Your driving record should be clean, specifically, with no at-fault accidents or serious traffic violations. A clean driving record is something to be proud of, especially if you've been on the road for four years.
Driver's licensing is done by the safety professionals, the Arkansas State Troopers. When you go to the ODS to apply for your driver's license, the troopers will need to see some documents. The ODS will want proof that you are here, in the U.S., legally:
- U.S. Visa
- U.S. Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Military ID
- INS Documents
- U.S. Passport
- Naturalization Certificate
Your age determines whether or not you need a parent signature on the paperwork. Drivers younger than 18 need to have a parent sign the application form. This is how the ODS can hold the parent responsible, too, for your driving safety.
The ODS will also want proof of your identity. Because you are applying for your first driver's license, you will choose documents from two lists, primary and secondary, to prove your identity.
The Arkansas Driver's License Test Study Guide includes the list of primary and secondary documents you may use for identification purposes.
If you are younger than 18, you must also prove that you are in school, have graduated, or passed the GED test. Ask your school office about the paperwork.
The ODS is part of the Department of Revenue; the ODS and Office of Motor Vehicles are great at maintaining all vehicle and drivers licensing records. However, when it comes to driver's license testing, the Arkansas State Police (ASP) do the best job of assessing driver skills and safety.
There are many ASP locations where each of the ASP Troops gives written and practical, usually called skills, tests. Not all troops offer the testing everyday so be sure to check a schedule.
The first test is your vision test. Arkansas requires you to have at least 20/50 vision and if you don't wear glasses or contacts, you need 20/40 vision. In Arkansas, the vision requirements for CDL Drivers are different from passenger car drivers.
Hopefully, you've studied hard for the written test and know the traffic signs, rules of the road, and other safety related topics.
Not mechanically savvy? You still need to know the basic vehicle equipment information covered in your driver handbook.
The skills test examines your ability to handle the vehicle. The state trooper will also be watching how well you handle yourself while driving. You will be nervous, and they understand that, but you still need to perform well.
Breathe a sigh of relief once you've passed the vision, written, and skills tests―you've earned your driver's license. Having your license is a huge responsibility and it is important for you to remember all the driver's safety training you've had.
Keeping your drivers license means following the traffic rules, honoring restrictions, and staying out of crashes. Many young drivers end up with suspended or revoked licenses. When this happens your auto insurance premiums rise and you will accumulate points on your license.
Keep your driving record clean by staying alert and avoiding traffic violations. Simply paying attention can improve your reaction time and safety record. Be a responsible driver, regardless of your age.
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