Drivers Permits in Washington DC

Washington, D.C. Driver's Permits

The Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires all drivers younger than 21 years old to fulfill the requirements of its Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers (GRAD) program before obtaining a full driver's license.

The first step of the process is getting your learner's permit. You can apply for a REAL ID learner permit, which meets the federal identification requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005, or a Limited Purpose learner permit. During this period, you'll improve your driving awareness, and learn how to drive safely.

Continue reading this page to get information about D.C. learner's permits and start the process of getting your D.C. driver's license.

How to Get a D.C. Learner's Permit

You must be at least 16 years old to apply for a D.C. learner's permit.

What's a REAL ID learner's permit?

The REAL ID permit is a federally-compliant document intended to provide a more accurate and secure form of identification. All U.S. states are transitioning to some form of the REAL ID. It will allow you to continue to use your driver's license to fly domestically and to enter federal and military property.

To apply, you'll need to visit your local D.C. DMV office in person and:

You must hold your Washington, D.C. learner's permit for 6 months before moving on to the next steps of the GRAD program.

NOTE: If you do NOT have a Social Security number, you can submit a Social Security Number Declaration (Form DMV-SSN-001). The Washington, D.C. DMV will issue you a limited purpose learner's permit.

Taking the Written Exam

If you've never been licensed in Washington, D.C., you must pass a written exam before the DC DMV will issue you a learner's permit. The fee for your knowledge test is $10.

You will have 60 minutes to complete the test, which contains questions about:

  • Traffic laws.
  • Road signs and traffic signals.
  • Safety rules.
  • Pavement markings.

To prepare for your D.C. written permit test, study the Washington, D.C. Driver Manual and take some time to pass an online practice test.

If you fail the written knowledge test, you will need to wait at least 3 calendar days before retaking it. If you fail 6 times within 1 year, you will need to wait 1 year from when you failed your 1st test, before you can try again.

D.C. Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions

When you practice driving with your learner's permit in Washington, D.C.:

  • A licensed adult who is at least 21 years old must supervise you.
  • You can only drive between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The DC DMV requires you to complete a minimum of 40 hours of supervised driving practice before moving to the next step of the process.

Washington D.C. Driving Practice

If you're younger than 21 years old, you must complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving practice before you can obtain your provisional driver's license. The DC DMV requires you to practice driving with a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old.

You will need to record your driving hours on a Certification of Eligibility for Provisional License (Form DMV-GRAD-HR40).

Once you complete the behind-the-wheel requirement and have held your learner permit for 6 months, you're eligible to apply for your D.C. provisional driver's license.

Replace a Lost Learner's Permit

You can replace your REAL ID learner permit or Limited Purpose learner permit in person at your local DC DMV office or online, if you’re eligible.

D.C. Provisional Driver's License

To apply for your provisional driver's license, you must:

  • Be at least 16 1/2 years old.
  • Have held your instruction permit for at least 6 months.
  • Have completed a minimum of 40 hours of supervised driving practice.

For specific details about how to apply for your provisional driver's license, please read our page about Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Washington, D.C.


Parental Consent Form to Obtain a Learner Permit
Use this form to provide consent for your child to obtain a learner permit.
DC DMV-6MR-001
6-Month Residency Certification For Limited Purpose Credential
This form is used to establish Washington, D.C. residency when applying for a limited-purpose ID card or driver's license.
Certificate for Eligibility for Provisional License
Use this form to certify you are eligible to obtain a provisional license. MUST be signed by your driving tutor.
Drivers License or Identification Card Application
Apply for a driver's license or identification card from the Washington D.C. DMV. You can also use this form to register to vote.
Social Security Number Declaration for Limited Purpose Credential
This form is used by the D.C. DMV to confirm whether or not you have a Social Security number, whether you are eligible to receive one, OR to state that you cannot establish legal presence in the U.S. but have been assigned a Social Security number.
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