Getting a Texas Drivers License
Driving gives us all a newfound feeling of freedom. For teens, applying for their drivers license for the first time is a major milestone in life. While the process may not be as quick and easy as with adult applicants, teenagers in the state of Texas need not worry. The process is actually much simpler than many new drivers expect it to be, and so long as you demonstrate your knowledge of the road and good driving behavior, you will earn your full unrestricted license as soon as you turn 18.
The Texas Graduated Driver License Program
The state has implemented the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program. It is a way of protecting both the driver and other motorists from the risks involved with first-time drivers who need time to acclimate to the responsibilities of being on the road. The program consists of age- and experience-related qualifications that a teen driver must achieve in order to get a driver’s license.
At the age of 15, teen drivers in Texas can get a learners license (also known as a Minor Restricted Driver License). If this license is held without any traffic violations or irresponsible driving behavior for six months, the driver will be eligible for a provisional drivers license. At 18, he or she will be ready for the real thing.
Phase One: The Learners Permit
Phase one is the learners permit. A teen must be at least 15 years old in order to be eligible for this kind of permit. All applicants are required to take an approved drivers education course, which consists of 32 hours of classroom instruction and 44 hours of behind-the-wheel training. Once the first six hours of the drivers education class have been completed, you will be eligible to take the written examination for your permit.
Everything covered on the learners permit written examination can be found in the Texas Drivers Handbook. Review the handbook, or take the Texas online practice test to prepare yourself for the day of the exam. You will also have to bring the following to the testing center:
- Proof of identity (such as a certified birth certificate) and Social Security number
- 2 proofs of residency in Texas
- Texas driver education certificate from your driving course
- Verification of enrollment in school, high school diploma, or GED
- Application for Texas drivers license signed by a parent or guardian
- $16 exam fee
Holders of a learners permit are required to drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older at all times, and they must complete a minimum of 30 practice driving hours, at least 10 of which must be done at night.
Phase Two: Your Intermediate License
Once behind-the-wheel training has been completed and a learners permit has been held for six months without incident, teenagers can take the road test to apply for their intermediate license. If you obtained your learners permit from another state, you can still proceed with the road test for a Texas intermediate license.
Before you take your Provisional License Behind the Wheel Roadway Exam, you must register for and complete the Texas DPS’ free Impact Texas Teen Drivers course (ITTD), located here. Once the ITTD course is complete, you will receive an email with a certificate. Be sure to print out and BRING THE CERTIFICATE TO THE DPS WITHIN 90 DAYS. If you do not complete this step, the certificate will expire and you will have to retake the ITTD course!
Passing the road test will award you an intermediate license. This gives you the ability to drive without supervision from a licensed driver. However, there are restrictions involved for driving under this license. For the first year of holding an intermediate drivers license, a teen is not allowed to:
- Drive between midnight and 5 a.m. without accompaniment by a licensed older driver
- Drive with more than one passenger under 21 years old who is not a family member
- Drive with a wireless communication device, regardless if it is hands-free
If the driver is able to keep his intermediate license for a year without road violations, the restrictions can be lifted and the license can be marked as “provisional” until the driver turns 18 years old. At that point, if you have driven well up to now, you will automatically be upgraded to a full unrestricted Texas drivers license. Just keep following the same safe driving habits that got you here, and you will be fine out there!