Drivers Permits in Wisconsin
COVID-19 Effects on Licensing Services
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state DMVs nationwide have closed office locations, extended license and registration expiration dates, and/or limited the transactions they are processing. If possible, residents should use the DMV's online services to complete any relevant transactions. Follow the DMV's most recent updates for the latest information.
Getting Your Wisconsin Learner's Permit
Your first step in the Wisconsin Graduated Driver Licensing program is to get your learner's permit. Below you will find all the important details you need, 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.
Wisconsin REAL IDs
The Wisconsin DMV issues federally-compliant REAL ID driver's licenses in addition to non-compliant licenses. REAL IDs allow you to use your driver's license for domestic travel and entry into federal and military buildings. After May 3, 2023, only the REAL ID will be accepted for these activities. Without one, you will need to show additional identification.
For more details on WI REAL IDs, see the DMV's guide.
New to Wisconsin?
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.
Getting a Wisconsin Learner's Permit
To be eligible for your Wisconsin learner's permit, you must be at least 15 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:
- 50 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 customer service center:
- A completed Wisconsin Driver License Application (Form MV3001) signed by your instructor and a parent, guardian, or other adult sponsor.
- Proof of:
- Name and birth date.
- Social Security number.
- The agent may be able to verify your SSN electronically, but bring your documents just in case.
- Legal U.S. presence.
- If you're 18 years old or older, you'll also need to provide proof of Wisconsin residency.
- The DMV provides guides to acceptable documents for each of the above.
- Payment for the $35 permit fee.
Be ready to take your permit exam (details are below) and pass a vision test before receiving your permit.
Taking the WI Written Permit Test
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.
Make your permit exam a piece of cake!
The best way to ensure you pass your test on the first try is to study for it—and a great way to do that is using an online practice test! You can get familiar with the exam format and find out what you need to brush up on before exam day.
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.
Behind-the-Wheel Driving Requirements
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 50 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).
Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions
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.
Replacing Your Learner's Permit in Wisconsin
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.
Your Next Step: Get Your Probationary License
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.