You’re a Washington teenager with an instruction permit and the motivation to get a full drivers license – now what? Well, the first step is to ensure that you meet all of the necessary requirements to earn a Washington drivers license.
Washington Drivers Ed & License Basic Requirements
In order to earn your drivers license, you must:
- Be a Washington resident at least 16 years old.
- Enroll in and complete a driver training course.
- Hold your Washington instruction permit for at least 6 months.
- Not be convicted of drug or alcohol offenses while holding a permit.
If you fulfill these, you’re now ready to go through with the licensing process.
How to Get a Washington Drivers License
After getting an instruction permit, you’ll have to fulfill the behind-the-wheel driver training requirements. Teenage permit-holders must log 50 hours of driving practice with someone who’s been licensed for at least 5 years. 10 of those hours must be at night.
Upon completion, you can schedule an appointment at a Washington testing station for a drive test. This is a behind-the-wheel examination where you’ll be evaluated on your driving acumen. Some of the things you’ll be tested on include:
- Driving in traffic
- Obeying traffic signals and signs
- Stopping and backing up
- Proper right-of-way protocol
- Performing techniques such as parallel parking
After passing your test, you can finish the application process online or at a driver licensing office. If you’re applying in person, you’ll need the following with you:
- Proof of completion of a driver training course
- Proof of identity and Social Security Number
- Parental supervision and approval – or, if they’re not with you, a signed and notarized copy of a Parental Authorization Affidavit.
You’ll receive a temporary drivers license in return – it’ll allow you to drive, but remember, it’s not a valid form of identification. If you complete the application online, your online receipt will serve as the temporary license. Your permanent license will be mailed to you within 7-10 days.
Washington Drivers License Restrictions
Licensed teen drivers 15-17 are issued an intermediate license as part of Washington’s Graduated Drivers License program. Under an intermediate license, you must follow these rules:
- For the first 6 months, you are not allowed any passengers under 20 years old except immediate family members. For the next 6 months, your passengers are restricted to no more than 3 people under 20 years old who aren’t members of your immediate family.
- For the first 12 months, you are not allowed to drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., unless you are accompanied by a driver 25 or older. The only exceptions are for agricultural purposes and assisting with the transport of farm products and supplies under the supervision of a farmer.
- Absolutely no cell phone use is allowed, even with a hands-free device. This includes talking, sending texts, reading texts, and taking pictures. The only exception is in the case of an emergency.
Failure to follow these restrictions will result in tickets, warning letters, and license suspensions after multiple offenses.
These restrictions are lifted once you turn 18, at which point your intermediate license automatically rolls over into a full, unrestricted Washington drivers license.