How to Get a Delaware Driver’s License
Delaware has a Graduated Driver License program, or GDL, that will give you time to learn how to drive in a controlled way. There are three stages to this program, from no license to full license.
You can begin the Delaware GDL process at 16. Complete a driver training course, get your learner’s permit, and hold it for 6 months to qualify for your restricted license. Drive with it for at least 6 months and you’ll be eligible for your unrestricted Delaware driver’s license when you turn 17.
The steps below have the details you’ll need to know to get your full, unrestricted Delaware driver’s license.
Get your Delaware learner’s permit
You can start the process to get your license at 16 years old. To get ready for driving, you can download the Delaware Driver Manual and start reading through it. At your local Division of Motor Vehicles location, you’ll need to fill out an application, bring in proof of identity, and pay a fee of $40.00 by debit card or check.
You must have completed a Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles approved Driver Education Training Course. An approved driver education course must consist of thirty hours of classroom instruction, seven hours of in-car behind-the-wheel instruction and seven hours of in-car observation.
When you’re ready to start your driving journey, find a driving school near you to get started.
Note that your DEMVD approved driver education course will include a written and road test.
A Driver Education Learner’s Permit is issued if you have reached 16 years of age and have a driver education instructor’s recommendation (white certificate) and a sponsor to sign the application.
You will be given an official paper which is your Delaware level one learner’s permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.
You must have your DE level one learner’s permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for a regular Delaware driver’s license. During that time, you’ll need to have 50 hours of driving practice with 10 hours of those being at night. There are also limits to your permit and they are as follows:
- You must carry your permit with you when driving
- You and all passengers must be wearing seatbelts or be securely fastened in a child safety seat or booster seat
- NO operating a cell phone or other similar electronic devices while driving
- No passengers other than your adult supervisor for the first year of having your permit. However, this does not apply to immediate family members so long as the adult supervisor is in the vehicle
- The adult supervisor must be a properly licensed parent, guardian or licensed driver approved by the sponsor who is at least 25 years old and has held a class D driver’s license for at least 5 years. The supervising driver must be seated beside you (the permit holder), no one else is allowed in the passenger seat
- For the first 6 months, you must be supervised while driving at all times. The sponsor shall certify that the permit holder has driven for 50 hours; 10 of which includes night-time driving. The certification is to be turned into the Department of Education after the first six months of valid driving authority.
- The use of a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. A conviction for violating this law will result in a one (1) month driver license suspension for a first offense and a three (3) months suspension for each subsequent offense.
After the first six months of valid Delaware Level One Learner’s Permit driving authority:
- The permit holder may drive unsupervised between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
- The permit holder may drive between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. only when under supervision. Exception: The permit holder may travel without supervision during those hours when going directly to and from church activities, work activities, and the permit holder’s school activities on school property.
- No passengers other than the adult supervisor and one other passenger can be in the vehicle except for immediate members of the driver’s family provided the adult supervisor is in the car. During the second six-month period of unsupervised driving, when a supervisor is not present, only one other passenger in addition to the driver can be in the vehicle.
Persons who violate the Delaware Level One Learner’s Permit restrictions are considered as driving without a license, which will result in a two-month suspension for the first offense and a four-month suspension for subsequent offenses.
Get your Delaware restricted license
Receiving your license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. Those are reaching the age of 16 and a half.
You will be required to pass a driving test with a Delaware DMV evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely.
Before you take it, you should check out the Top 10 Automatic Fails on Driver Tests, so you’ll know what not to do on test day.
Vision Test: You will need to take a vision test. If you need glasses be sure you’re wearing them.
Your license will be mailed to you and will have your photograph on it. They take your picture the day you pass your driving skills test. This license will come with the following restrictions:
- No more than one passenger unless immediate family and adult supervisor is present
- No passenger is to sit in the front seat except for adult supervisor
As you continue to learn how to operate a motor vehicle in different conditions, there are certain hours when you won’t be able to drive. Those are 10pm-6am.
Get your full unrestricted Delaware driver's license
At a certain point, the state feels that you’ve been able to receive enough supervised driving experience that you can go out on your own. Therefore, once you reach 17 and have had your restricted license for at least a year, you can get your full license.
This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated license until that one expires. After you renew your license, you will receive your full, unrestricted license in the mail.
Whether you’ve just finished your Delaware graduated licensing process, or are just starting out, you might also want to consider a telematic companion application to better understand your driving habits, and how to improve them.
The best option is the DriverZ Virtual Coach. Download it today to sharpen your S.P.I.D.E.R.Senses™ to build the driving skills that will keep you safe for a lifetime, track your supervised driving hours, and access bespoke driver training based on your specific needs.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some other details which are good to know as you start out on your DE graduated licensing journey.
Can I drive in Delaware with an out-of-state learner’s permit?
Yes, you may drive with out-of-state learner’s permits may drive in Delaware, but must obey all graduated license restrictions issued by your home state.
What is a Delaware driver education permit?
In Delaware, a driver education student does not need a permit to drive with a driver education instructor. After completing the on-road requirements of driver education, a driver education student who is at least 15 years, 10 months may apply for a Delaware Driver Education Learner’s Permit, which allows the student to drive while supervised by an experienced driver.
Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles information
For comprehensive information on everything related to the Delaware graduated licensing program, visit the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles You can also inquire via email at DMVCustomerService@state.de.us
Prepare for your license journey by reviewing the Delaware Driver Manual, and taking a few practice tests.