Drivers Permits in Pennsylvania
Getting Your Learner's Permit in Pennsylvania
To reduce the number of accidents involving teen drivers, many states—including Pennsylvania—have implemented a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. As part of the PA GDL program, one of the first steps on your path to your driver's license is to obtain your PA learner's permit. Below you will find everything you need to know, from taking the DOT written exam to your learner's permit driving restrictions.
Pennsylvania REAL ID Driver's License
PennDOT issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver’s licenses in addition to non-compliant licenses. As of October 1, 2020, only the REAL ID will function as federal identification for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings—a standard license will not after this date.
You have the choice to apply for a non-compliant license or upgrade to a REAL ID license. For more detail, visit PennDOT's guide to REAL IDs.
New to Pennsylvania?
If you're new to the state, you must obtain a learner's permit if:
- You're a first-time teen driver.
- You are a new PA resident who has an out-of-state driver's license that has been expired for more than 6 months.
It's important to note that out-of-state learner's permits cannot be transferred to Pennsylvania. You must apply for a Pennsylvania driver's permit and complete all applicable knowledge and skills tests in order to get a Pennsylvania driver's license.
Applying for Your Pennsylvania Learner's Permit
When you apply, you'll need to present:
- A completed Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application (Form DL-180)
- You must have a medical professional conduct and examination on you and complete the required medical section of this application.
- A completed Parent or Guardian Consent Form (Form DL-180TD).
- If you're under 18 years old, the DL-180TD form MUST be completed by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least 18 years old or older. This form MUST be notarized or signed in front of the driver's license examiner at the driver license center.
- Proof of:
- Identity, based on whether you want your license to be a REAL ID-compliant credential or a non-compliant license. See PennDOT's guides to which documents are acceptable for each:
- Residency*, if you are 18 years old or older (e.g. bank statement, W-2, lease or mortgage).
- Though applicants under 18 years old do not need to provide proof of residency, you WILL need to show such proof if you want to get a REAL ID driver's license after your permit phase is over. You can either bring it now, or wait until you apply for your restricted driver's license.
- Your Social Security card.
- Payment for the $35.50 fee.
You will also be required to pass a vision screening and a written permit test (see below). Once you pass both of these, you'll receive your Pennsylvania learner's permit, which is valid for 1 year.
Taking the DMV Written Exam
Once you have all the documents mentioned above, it's time to take your learner's permit test at a driver license center. The exam is based on information about Pennsylvania traffic laws, road signs, and safe driving techniques contained in the Pennsylvania Study Guide. Inside the guide you will also find a basic practice test. Our recommendation is to prepare for the exam with an industry-leading online practice test from our approved partner.
PA Permit Behind-the-Wheel Requirements
With your learner's permit in your possession, it's time to polish your driving skills with behind-the-wheel practice. This practice may only be completed with a licensed driver 21 years old or older.
During this phase of the GDL, you must:
- Log 65 hours of supervised driving with a licensed driver.
- 10 hours must be at night.
- 5 hours must be during inclement weather.
Once you complete your behind-the-wheel practice driving, you are one step closer to being ready for your road test.
If you are under 18 years old, a parent, guardian, or spouse at least 18 years old must sign a Parent or Guardian Certification form (Form DL-180C). The form MUST be notarized if your parent, guardian, or spouse will not be accompanying you to your road test. Turn in the DL-180C form when you take your road test.
You must hold your learner's permit for a minimum of 6 months before taking your road test for your junior driver's license. For details on the steps to take to get your junior license, please visit our PA Teen Licensing page.
Next Step: Your Junior Driver's License
Once you've completed your behind-the-wheel training hours, you can schedule your road test with PennDOT and move on to your junior driver's license. For details, please visit our page on Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers).
Pennsylvania Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions
During your learner's permit phase, you may drive only:
- With a licensed driver 21 years old or older.
- While properly wearing a seat belt at all times.
You may NOT drive:
- With any passengers other than immediate family (brother, sister, parent, etc.).
Driving Violations with a Pennsylvania Learner's Permit
Drivers under 18 years old risk a learner's permit suspension of 90 days if:
- You receive 6 points or more on your driving record (points can be accumulated by breaking any of the above conditions, as well as any other PA traffic & safety laws).
- You receive a single traffic ticket for driving 26 MPH or faster over the speed limit.
Replacing a Lost or Expired PA Driver's Permit
Lost PA Learner's Permit
If you lose your learner's permit, you can apply for a replacement either in person or by mail. The replacement license will be valid for the time remaining on your original.
- Visit a Driver License Center in person.
- Complete and submit a Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application to Add/Extend/Replace/Change/Correct form (Form DL-31)*.
- Pay the appropriate fee of $5 by check or money order, payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Your duplicate Pennsylvania learner's permit will be handed to you over the counter.
- Download and complete a Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application to Add/Extend/Replace/Change/Correct form (Form DL-31)*.
- Fill out a check or money order $5, made payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."
Mail your payment and application to:
P.O. Box 68272
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8272
You should receive your duplicate PA learner's permit within 7 to 10 business days after processing.
*NOTE: If you are under 18 years old the DL-31 form MUST be signed by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least 18 years old. The signature MUST be notarized if they will not accompany you to the driver license center to apply or if you mail in the application for an extension.
Expired Pennsylvania Learner's Permit
You can apply for an extension to your learner's permit if it expires, or if you need more time to practice. You can also apply for an extension if you fail the road test 3 times. Extensions are valid for up to 1 year from the date it was issued.
To apply for an extension, go to your local driver license center and:
- Fill out the Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application to Add/Extend/Replace/Change/Correct (Form DL-31).
- If you are under 18 years old the DL-31 form must be signed by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least 18 years old. The signature MUST be notarized if they will not accompany you to the driver license center to apply or if you mail in the application for an extension.
- Pay the $5 duplicate learner's permit fee.
If you are unable to go to a driver license center in person, you may send the application and the fee (check or money order made payable to “ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania") to:
P.O. Box 68272
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8272