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Getting Your Wisconsin Learner's Permit
In a study conducted from 2006 to 2010, it was found that teen driving deaths in Wisconsin led the nation. Alarming statistics like this have prompted many states including Wisconsin to initiate a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. In a GDL program, first-time teen drivers must achieve certain milestones before getting a driver’s license.
Your first step in the Wisconsin GDL is to get your learner's permit, which is also referred to as a learner’s permit. Below you will find all the important details related to getting a learner’s permit, including what documents to bring to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and your state-specific behind-the-wheel practice driving requirements.
If you have any additional questions, you can reach the DMV at (608) 264-7447.
If you’re new to the state and you took Driver’s Ed in your previous state, you can transfer your permit to a Wisconsin learner's permit, as long as the Driver’s Ed course you already completed included both classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction.
To get your Wisconsin learner's permit, you must be at least 15 1/2 years old and you must be enrolled in or have completed an approved Driver’s Ed course. Your course can be taken at most high schools or from a private driver training school.
Your approved Driver’s Ed course must include:
- 30 hours of classroom instruction.
- 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training.
- 6 hours of in-car observation.
You also need to be enrolled in a high school or high school equivalency program and you need to pass the written knowledge exam.
Bring the following documents with you to your local DMV office:
- A completed Wisconsin Driver License Application (Form MV3001) signed by your instructor and a parent, guardian, or other adult sponsor.
- Proof of identity (e.g. valid U.S. passport, Social Security card, pay stub with name and Social Security number [SSN]).
- Proof of Social Security (e.g. a Social Security card, pay stub with name, address, and SSN, or completed W-2 form).
- Proof of legal presence (e.g. valid U.S. passport, Consular Report of Birth abroad, Employment Authorization document).
If you’re 18 years old or older, you’ll also need to provide proof of Wisconsin residency (e.g. a utility bill, valid Wisconsin hunting or fishing license, college enrollment documentation).
For more information, please refer to this list of acceptable documents provided by the DMV.
Written knowledge/permit tests are administered at DMV service centers on computer-based kiosk stations. The exam questions are based on information about Wisconsin traffic laws, road signs, and safe driving techniques discussed in the Wisconsin Driver Handbook. The test will take approximately 45 minutes to complete.
If you don’t pass the test, you are allowed 5 attempts to take it within 1 year. If you don’t pass in 5 attempts, you’ll need to get special permission from the DMV to take it again.
Once you pass the exam, you’ll also need to successfully complete a vision test and pay the required $35 permit fee.
Once you have your learner's permit, your first behind-the-wheel lesson needs to be conducted within 60 days.
If you’re under 18 years old, in addition to the 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training that is part of your Driver’s Ed requirement, you will also need to complete 30 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel practice driving; 10 hours must be completed at night.
These hours must be logged on a Wisconsin Graduated Driver Licensing Supervised Driving Log (Form HS-303).
Whenever you are operating a vehicle with a learner’s permit, including your behind-the-wheel training, you must always be accompanied by a driver with a minimum of 2 years driving experience who currently has a valid (non-probationary) license seated next to you in the passenger seat at all times.
Your supervising driver can be one of the following:
- A qualified driving instructor 19 years old or older.
- A parent or guardian 19 years old or older.
- A person 21 years old or older. If you’re under 18 years old, this accompanying licensed driver must have written authorization from your parent or guardian.
Please note: If you’re driving during hours of darkness, your supervising driver must be at least 25 years old with at least 2 years of driving experience.
In addition to the restrictions mentioned above, you are only allowed to drive with immediate family members who must ride in the back seat while wearing seat belts. You’re not allowed to drive with any other passengers.
If you need to replace your learner's permit, the DMV will need to see either:
- A course completion certificate from driver's education.
- A Wisconsin Driver License Application (Form MV3001) signed by your Driver’s Ed instructor showing you are still enrolled.
You will then need to appear at a DMV service center with a parent or guardian and bring the documents mentioned above.
Once you have your learner's permit in hand for at least 6 months, it’s time to get your probationary license. For more information, please refer to our page on Teen Driver’s Licenses in WI.
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