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Adult Permit Requirements: Do You Need One Before a Drivers License?

By: Staff WriterJune 18, 2012

Depending on your state, adults learning to drive for the first time may have different requirements than teens in regards to learner permits.

The definition of "adult driver" depends on your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Some define adult drivers as anyone 18 or older, while other DMVs deem 21 as the true age of adulthood.

General Adult Permit and Driver License Requirements

Regardless, in general, as an adult driver you will need to meet all or some of the following learners permit and drivers license requirements:

  • Pass a vision test. This is standard for all new drivers regardless of age or state.
  • Pass your state's knowledge test (also referred to as a written test). Prepare by studying your state's drivers manual. You can download a copy off your DMV's website, or grab one from any DMV office. Study the entire manual, front to back. The test is based directly on topics addressed in the manual.
  • After passing, you may or may not be required to complete a drivers ed course. In most states, driver education is only required for teen drivers younger than 18. Don't assume, however, confirm with your DMV. Maryland, for instance, requires all new drivers 18 and older to enroll in a drivers ed class if they've never previously held a driver's license in a different state or country.
  • You may or may not have to apply for a learner permit and hold it for a certain length of time before applying for a drivers license. Most teen drivers have to hold their driver permits for several months before taking the skills test. But this is usually waived for drivers classified as adults. In Colorado, for example, drivers 21 or older can arrange for a road test immediately after obtaining a drivers permit.

Keep in mind that after obtaining an instructional permit, you will be required to follow all driving restrictions. These apply to all new drivers, including only driving while accompanied in the front seat by a licensed driver. Depending on your state, the driver may need to be at least a certain age.

Are you an adult driver who had to obtain a learner's permit? How long did you have to keep it before you could move to a full driver's license?

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