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Getting a first-time driver’s license means much more than just being able to drive―it means freedom. Once you get your Wisconsin driver’s license and your hands on the car keys, the world is at your fingertips.
New to Wisconsin?
If you are new to the state, you can get a probationary driver's license as long as you are 16 years old, have a valid out-of-state license or instruction permit for at least 6 months, and have not had a violation in 6 months. Any applicant younger than 18 years old must show proof of completion for a driver's education course and behind-the-wheel training from your previous state when you apply.
If you haven’t completed a Driver’s Ed course, you must wait until you are 18 years old to get your probationary driver’s license, or you may go through the GDL process outlined below.
A Class D probationary license, good for two years from your next birthday, is issued to new residents who surrender a license equivalent to Class D.
About the Wisconsin Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) Program
The number of accidents involving teen drivers is alarming. In fact, only 6% of all Wisconsin-licensed drivers are ages 16-19, but drivers in this age group account for 16% of all drivers involved in crashes. Because of this, Wisconsin employs a GDL program in which teens must meet certain milestones before obtaining a full driver’s license.
- Instructional Permit: 15 1/2 years old
- Probationary License: 16 years old
- Unrestricted License: 19 years old
Driver’s Education in Wisconsin
If you’re getting your Instruction Permit, you must be enrolled in a certified Driver’s Education course. Your driver’s education course must include 30 hours of classroom instruction, 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training, and 6 hours of in-car observation. You can take a Driver’s Ed course in a classroom or online.
NOTE: If younger than 18 years old, you'll need an adult sponsor to verify your driving hours.
Wisconsin Instruction Permit
If you’re at least 15 1/2 years old and enrolled in Driver’s Ed, you are eligible to get your instruction permit. Here’s what you need to do:
- Provide acceptable identification, including proof of name, birth date, Social Security number, and Wisconsin residency.
- Submit a completed Driver License Application (Form MV3001), signed by your driver’s education instructor and your parent, legal guardian, or other approved adult sponsor.
- Provide proof of enrollment in a high school, high school equivalency program, home-based private education program, or already have earned a high school diploma or equivalent and not be a habitual truant from school.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass the knowledge and traffic sign tests.
- Pay the $35 instruction permit fee. DMV service centers accept cash, checks, debit cards, American Express, MasterCard and Discover.
Once you get your instruction permit, your first behind-the-wheel lesson must be conducted within 60 days. You must be accompanied at all times by someone who has at least two years of driving experience and presently holds a valid regular (non-probationary) license. They may be one of the following:
- A qualified instructor 19 years old or older.
- Your parent, guardian or spouse, 19 years old or older. You may only have other passengers if they are immediate family members.
- Any licensed driver 21 years old or older, with written authorization from the teen’s parent or legal guardian. No other passengers are allowed.
With your instruction permit, you will be required to complete 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, 10 hours of which must be done at night. Use the Wisconsin Graduated Driver Licensing Supervised Driving Log (Form HS-303) to document your driving hours.
NOTE: Instruction permits are valid for 1 year and may be renewed if you feel you need more time to practice driving before obtaining your probationary license.
WI Probationary Driver’s License
Once you’re 16 years old, have had your instruction permit for 6 months, and have completed Driver’s Ed, it’s time to get your probationary license.
NOTE: You cannot have had any violations for the 6 months prior to applying.
Here’s how to get your license:
During this phase, you will need to adhere to the following restrictions for the first 9 months:
- You are not permitted to drive with more than one passenger except immediate family or another qualified adult.
- You may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless you’re driving between home, school, or work.
All restrictions will be extended if you violate them, are convicted of a moving traffic violation, or your license is revoked or suspended for any reason.
You must hold your probationary driver’s license for two years, starting from the date of your next birthday; therefore, the earliest you can obtain your regular driver’s license is 19 years old.
Regular WI Driver’s License
After you’ve held your probationary license through its renewal cycle and have turned 19 years old, you may obtain your regular driver’s license. You will need to visit your local DMV office and:
- Turn in your probationary license.
- Complete the driver’s license application (Form MV3001).
- Take a vision test.
- Pay the $28 renewal fee. DMV service centers accept cash, checks, debit cards, American Express, MasterCard and Discover.
Wisconsin Auto Insurance
Carrying car insurance is required by law. Adding a teen driver often increases the cost of a family's auto insurance premiums, so make sure to check with multiple auto insurance companies for the best coverage that fits your needs and budget.
Instructional Permit Insurance
Contact your insurance company to verify that your teen driver is covered when driving with an adult supervisor. If not, it's important to get coverage that protects your teen while holding his or her permit.
Probationary License Insurance
Teen drivers with a provisional driver's license are required to show proof of insurance when applying for their license. Teens may be added to an existing family or parent's policy, or they may get their own.
For more information about possible family discounts, rates and coverage, visit the DMV.org pages:
Other Wisconsin Licenses
Moped and Motorcycle Licenses for Teens in Wisconsin
Any driver with a regular license is allowed to operate a moped without any extra endorsement added to their license.
You must be at least 16 years old to apply for a motorcycle permit or license with the sponsorship of parents, guardians, or approved adults. To get a motorcycle permit, show proof of enrollment in a basic rider course, pass the knowledge tests, and pay the $32 fee. The permit allows for the rider to practice while completing the basic rider’s course, but is not required before getting a motorcycle license. The motorcycle permit is valid for 6 months.
You can get a motorcycle license upon completion of a basic rider’s course, passing the knowledge tests, a motorcycle skills test, and paying the $22 fee. Learn more on our Motorcycle License page.