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  • Drivers Permits in Tennessee

    Obtaining your learner's permit is an exciting time because it means you're one step closer to applying for your driver's license! Ah, the open road will be yours.

    There are three kinds of learner's and instructional permits in Tennessee. Which one you need depends on your age.

    Under 18

    If you're under 18 years old, you must comply with the Tennessee Driver Services Division (DSD) Graduated Driver License (GDL) program. You can find specific information about the GDL program in Chapter Three of the Tennessee Driver Handbook.

    For your convenience, we've collected information for a brief outline.

    Learner Permit

    In order to obtain your first Tennessee learner permit, which is also called a Class PD license, you must be at least 15 years old and pass both a vision and a written knowledge test.

    The application process is fairly simple, as long as you've studied and can pass your written knowledge test. Just head to your local driver license station with the required documents and the $10.50 fee.

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    With a Class PD license, you can only drive between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and you must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least age 21.

    If you lose your Class PD license, or allow it to expire, you are subject to starting the application process all over―and paying the fee again, too.

    Once you've had a learner permit for 180 infraction-free days, you can apply for your intermediate restricted license.

    Intermediate Restricted License

    Once you've turned 16 years old and have had your Class PD driver license for 180 infraction-free days, you can apply for your intermediate restricted license.

    You'll need to pass another vision test, but for your intermediate restricted test you must pass a road exam in lieu of a written knowledge exam. You must also present a Certification of 50 Hours Behind the Wheel Experience (Form SF-1256), completed and signed by a parent or legal guardian.

    With a Tennessee intermediate restricted license, you can between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. alone (or with one other passenger), and between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. if you're accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

    The fee for an intermediate restricted license is $24.50. It's valid for 5 years, and once you've had it for 1 year you can apply for your intermediate unrestricted license.

    If you lose your intermediate restricted license, or allow it to expire, you are subject to starting the application process all over and paying the fee again, too.

    Intermediate Unrestricted License

    Once you have had your intermediate restricted license for at least 1 year, you're ready to apply for your intermediate unrestricted license.

    The good news is that this license carries no restrictions different from a regular Tennessee Class D driver license―it just bears the word "restricted" on it.

    The fee is $2 and it's valid for 1 year.

    If you lose your intermediate unrestricted license, or allow it to expire, you are subject to starting the application process all over and paying the fee again, too.

    Over 18

    Drivers 18 years old and older, or drivers under 18 years old who have graduated from high school, can apply for their Class PD license (learner permit) and bypass the GDL process.

    This means you can take your road test and, if you pass it along with another vision test, apply for your Tennessee Class D driver license at any point after earning your learner permit.

    Tennessee conveniently allows you to schedule road tests online.

    Remember to Practice

    It's best to get tons of driving practice in before you move on to any other phase in the GDL process, or try for your Class D driver license.

    Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the Tennessee Driver Handbook and take advantage of the practice tests we provide here at DMV.org.

    Too, check out our Teen Drivers section for safety tips regardless of your age and license status.

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