Drivers Permits in Wisconsin
Is it time to get your Class D (car and light truck) instruction permit? Read on.
For motorcycles, see our Motorcycle License section.
Before we start, note that drivers between the ages of 15 years, six months old and 18 must follow the Graduated Driver License (GDL) process. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation provides some scoop on the GDL process in the form of an audio file; however, you can also read the text transcript.
First, you must be at least 15 years, six months old to begin this journey.
If you're under 18, enroll in an approved driver education class before applying for the permit.
If you've already done this, or are over 18, then get ready to bring this long list of items to a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) service center (avoid express offices):
- Completed driver's license application
- Acceptable proof of identity
- Acceptable proof of residency (if over 18)
- Acceptable proof of name and date of birth
- Acceptable proof of legal presence
Got all that?
The requirements don't end there, though. All applicants must provide their Social Security number. Also, if you're under 18, your parent, step-parent, legal guardian, or another approved adult will need to sign your application, thus accepting responsibility for your driving actions.
Additionally, those under 18 either need to have graduated from high school or:
- Be enrolled in a school program or a high school equivalency program
- Be enrolled in a home-based private education program
- Been granted a high school graduation equivalency certificate
Don't ditch school. Your attendance records will be checked.
If all your paperwork checks out, then you must pass the knowledge, road sign, and vision tests.
After passing the tests, all that's left to do is to pay the $35 fee, and you'll be the proud owner of a Class D instruction permit.
The test is free to take, and you don't need an appointment. The test takes about 45 minutes to complete, so give yourself enough time to finish before the service center closes for the day.
Most tests are taken with a touch-screen computer. You'll know right away if you've answered the question correctly. Those with a limited reading capacity can request audio assistance to help with the test taking.
The knowledge and signs tests are available in English, Chinese, Hmong, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Somali, and Spanish.
You're only allowed five cracks at passing the test within a year. After that, you'll need to get permission from DMV personnel after showing you've taken steps to increase your ability to pass the test, such as by having a tutor.
The permit is valid for one year and renewable for $35. Permits may be renewed up to eight years after the initial permit without having to take the tests again. If you're under 18, though, you'll need to show you've either passed the driver education class, or are currently enrolled in one.
Duplicate permits cost $14.
Take your first driving lesson within 60 days of receiving your permit.
With the permit, you're allowed to drive with a currently licensed adult who has been driving for at least two years sitting in the passenger seat. Also, that person must be either:
- Your parent, legal guardian, spouse, or qualified driving instructor
- Over 21
Night driving is a bit different: take a qualified driving instructor, or a licensed driver who is at least 25 with two years of driving experience.
Those under 18 need to have their instructor permit for at least six months before going after their probationary license. And you've got to get at least 30 hours of driving time, 10 of which are at night.
Those over 18 only have to wait a week to apply for their probationary license.
For more information on how to proceed with this next step, visit our Applying for a New License section.
Other Topics in This Section
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- Drivers Training Requirements: Do You Have to Enroll in Drivers Training?
- How to Choose a Drivers Training Program
- Who’s Required to Take Drivers Training
- Transferring a Learner Permit to a New State
- Teen Driver Safety: Seat Belt Use
- Graduating From a Drivers Permit to a Restricted Drivers License
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