Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Texas
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Getting a driver's license for the first time is a life changing experience for any teen. Imagine no longer needing a ride to the mall, or waiting to be picked up after school. Once you have your Texas driver's license in hand, those days will be a distant memory.
Teens under 18 years old who have a license or learner's permit from another U.S. state/territory or Canada do not have to take the knowledge portion of the driver's test in Texas, but they must take the driving part in order to obtain a Texas state driver's license.
Teens will then be eligible to get a Phase Two license.
In an effort to minimize the tremendous risks associated with first-time drivers, many states, including Texas, have adopted a Graduated Driver License (GDL) program. Over the course of the GDL program, teens must achieve certain milestones prior to obtaining their driver licenses. Many of these milestones are age and experience related.
Let's get started.
- 14 years old: Begin Drivers Ed (Please Note: just because you start Drivers Ed, you still can't apply for a Learners Permit until you're 15 years old).
- 15 years old with Drivers Ed: Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL), also known as a hardship license.
- 15 years old and completed the classroom hours of Driver's Ed: Learners Permit.
- 16 years old: only if you have a valid license from another state. (PLEASE NOTE: you still are required to take a driving exam in Texas in order to get your Texas license.)
- Under 18 years old: Eligible to get a Provisional License AFTER maintaining a valid learner's license for 6 months.
- 18 years old: Eligible to apply for a Class A, B, C or M License (not a CDL License).
All individuals younger than 25 years old must complete an approved driver's education course.
Teens can start driver's education as soon as they are 14 years old, but they cannot apply for their Phase One license until they are at least 15 years old.
There are three different options for teens to complete driver's education:
- An approved for-profit driver training school
- Public school driver education
- Parent-taught driver education
The Driver's Ed requirement must include 32 hours of classroom instruction. Public school may require more classroom hours. All types of Texas Driver's Ed require 44 hours of behind the wheel training as of October 1st 2013.
The minimum age for applying for your learner's permit is 15 years old, but you can begin your driver's education at 14 years old if you want to get a jump start.
Let's break down this complicated process into simple terms. The first milestone on your path to your driver's license is obtaining a Texas learner's permit.
Prepare for the Written Exam
If you're at least 15 years old and 6 months and you have completed the classroom portion of Driver’s Ed, it's time to prepare for the DPS written exam. Grab a copy of the Texas Driver Handbook and start studying with your parents. This is also an ideal time to establish some house rules about driving.
Another excellent way to prepare for the DPS written exam is to take an online practice test that is comprised of Texas drivers license test questions and answers. These professionally-crafted exams use information directly from the Texas Driver Handbook and deliver it in an easy-to-retain format, which will help you pass the test on your first attempt.
Pass the Texas Written Exam
Once you've completed Driver's Ed and polished your skills with a practice test, it's time to head to the DPS for your written exam.
NOTE: If you already passed the DMV written test as part of your Driver's Ed course, you are exempt from taking it again.
Be sure to bring:
- Proof of identity.
- Proof of your Social Security number.
- 2 documents proving Texas residency or lawful presence in the state and country.
- Your Texas Driver Education Certificate (DE-964). You'll get this when you complete driver's education. *
- A completed Verification of Enrollment and Attendance (get one from your principal or school secretary), your high school diploma, or a GED.
- A completed Application for Texas Driver's License (DL-14A) with the parental authorization signature. Pick this up at any TX DPS office.
- $16 to cover the fee.
- Your mom, dad, or legal guardian to sign off on the paperwork
* You can substitute traditional Driver's Ed with a Parent-Taught Education program. If you do, bring the completed Classroom Instruction Driver Education Affidavit (DL-90A) and a Classroom Instruction Log (DL-91A). These forms are included in the packet you'll receive. Learn more about Parent-Taught Driver's Education.
Once you present your documents and fees, you'll take the written test.
The written exam includes questions about traffic laws, road signs, and rules for safe driving―everything you'll find in the Driver Handbook.
Once you pass the DMV written test and a vision exam, you'll earn your learner's permit.
Get Behind-the-Wheel Training
Once you have your learner's permit in your possession, it's time to get busy. Your permit basically says that you understand the principles of being a responsible driver, but you still need some valuable practice.
How much practice, you ask? Great question.
With your learner's permit in hand, you must log 30 hours of driver training with a licensed driver over 21 years old. Also, 10 hours of those hours must be at night. More importantly, you need to be prepared to pass your driving test.
Once you have held your learner's permit for 6 months, and you've completed your 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training and have reached 16 years old, it's time to make a trip to the DPS and take your driving test. Successfully pass this test and Phase Two, with your intermediate license, begins.
Restricted Driving with an Intermediate License
With your Intermediate License, you can now drive solo without supervision, but there are a few restrictions:
- You can't drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
- You can't have more than 1 passenger under 21 years old who is not a family member.
- You can have no wireless communication, hands-free or not, unless it is an emergency.
Once you turn 18 years old, the state GDL restrictions will be lifted. Your Texas driver's license will be marked "provisional" until you turn 18 years old.
If you'd like to track and share your progress along the way, check out our new license checklist.
Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL)
The Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL) is another kind of license teens can get. It's not related to the GDL program; rather, it's a type of hardship license that allows teens to become fully licensed at 15 years old if they meet certain requirements:
- You must be at least 15 years old.
- Complete the driver education course.
- Pass the knowledge, vision, and driving tests.
- Meet any other licensing requirements.
- Provide supporting documentation proving a need based on:
- Illness of a family member
- Enrollment in a VOE program that requires the applicant to be licensed to participate
You and your parent, legal guardian, or employer (if there is no legal guardian) must file a Minor’s Restricted Driver License Application (Form DL-77). You may also need a Verification of Enrollment and Attendance Form.
The Texas Department of Safety will determine whether or not the MRDL is justified on a case-by-case basis.
Teen Motorcycle/Moped License in Texas
Teens can get a motorcycle license at 16 years old once they:
- Have completed a driver's education course.
- Already have a valid provisional driver license.
- Complete an approved 16-hour motorcycle training course.
Teens can get a moped/small-motor motorcycle license at 15 years old with:
- Parental permission.
- Completion of a driver education course.
- Completion of an approved 16-hourmotorcycle training course.
Contact local DPS office for more information.
Auto insurance is required by law and is extremely important for protecting yourself financially if there is an accident. Adding a teen driver may significantly increase the cost of auto insurance premiums, so it is a good idea to check with multiple auto insurance companies to find the best coverage.
(At this point, you might want your parents to take over the reading!)
Phase One: Texas Learner's Permit Insurance
Phase One teens may be covered under the insurance of the adult licensed driver who is riding with them. Contact your insurance company to verify that the teen driver is covered when driving the vehicle with an adult. If not, get an insurance policy that covers the teen.
Phase Two: Provisional License Insurance
Phase Two teen drivers are required to show proof of insurance in order to get their intermediate license. Parents can add teens to an existing family policy or a parent's policy, or teens can get their own policy.
There may be opportunities for teens and their families to qualify for discounts from insurance companies. For more information about discounts, rates, and coverage, visit the DMV.org resources:
- Teen Guide to Car Insurance
- Buying Car Insurance for Teens
- Saving Money on Teen Car Insurance
- Adding Teens to Your Car Insurance Policy
- Texas Insurance Center