How To Get a Driver's License

Getting a driver's license isn't just for driving. Driver's licenses are also useful as state-issued identification to get you past the boarding gate at airports, identifying yourself for jobs or even cashing a check.

Each state makes its own rules regarding driver's licenses. To determine the specific requirements in your state, try this excellent online guide from Select your state to learn about its licensing requirements. Another useful website,, is loaded with useful information about all 50 states.

If your driver's license has been suspended or revoked, you will not be able to get a driver's license in any state until the specified period of suspension expires.

If you're trying to get a driver's license, here are some guidelines and a few things to expect.

  1. Go online or visit your local state licensing office (this is usually the same as the department of motor vehicles) to get a driver's manual. Most states have a copy of the manual online in .pdf format. The driver manual describes all of the laws and techniques that you must understand before you begin driving. Here are a few topics you can expect to see in a driver's manual:
    • How to read road signs
    • Defensive driving
    • Alcohol and drug laws
    • Intersections
    • Pedestrians
    • Passing
    • Turning
    • Parking
    • Special driving situations like snow, ice and drawbridges
    • Motorcycles
  2. Take some time to study the material at home. After you have mastered the material, return to the department of motor vehicles to take the written test. The "written test" may very well be on a computer. In any case, the format will be multiple choice. The test may include pictures of driving situations with related questions asking you what to do. If you've studied your driver's manual, the test will be fairly easy.
  3. Once you pass the written test, you will be given a driver's permit pending a brief eye exam. At this point, you will be permitted to drive when a responsible adult is in the passenger seat. That's right -- this could be your parent!
  4. You may want to consider signing up for a driver's education course, which can be found through your local high school, technical college or even through private companies in the yellow pages. Some states even require young drivers to go through driver's education before allowing them to get their full license. You'll need to check the rules for your state.
  5. For your first time driving, you may want to start in a deserted parking lot. At the very least, choose a road with little traffic. Take some time to get familiar with all of the controls in the car. If you're learning to drive a car with a manual transmission, learn to use the clutch before driving on public highways.

    Once you've mastered all of the basic requirements for driving, it may be time to take the road test. Return to the Department of Motor Vehicles for this test. Your state may require younger drivers to have logged a certain number of hours with a parent. You may also be required to have your permit for a certain period of time, usually about one year. Before your test administrator enters the vehicle, she will probably want to verify that your car meets all legal requirements. All systems should work properly, and you will need to demonstrate proof of insurance and a current registration.

  6. If you pass your road test, you will be given your driver's license. Fees for licensing vary from state to state, but it's a modest fee -- under $10 in most states.


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