How to Get a Kentucky Driver’s License
The Kentucky Graduated Driver License program, or GDL, will give you time to learn how to drive in a controlled way. There are three stages to this program, from no Kentucky license to a full license.
Completing the Kentucky GDL takes about a year. You’ll pass a written test for your permit and complete a KTC approved driver training course. Then, 60 hours of supervised driving for an intermediate license. Drive with it for 6 months, and turn 18, to receive your unrestricted Kentucky license.
The steps below have the details you’ll need to know in order to get your full, unrestricted license.
Get your Kentucky learner’s permit
You can start the process to get your Kentucky license at 16 years old. To get ready for driving, you can download the Kentucky Driver Manual and start reading through it. At your local Kentucky DMV location, you’ll need to fill out an application, bring in proof of identity, and pay a fee of $15 for a standard permit and $18 for a REAL ID permit by debit card or check.
Before being issued your KY learner’s permit, you’ll have to pass a vision screening and a written knowledge test, which will consist of 40 questions and require you to get 32 correct (80%). Consider working through some practice exams before you take it.
If you fail the test, you can retake it on the next available date.
You will be given an official paper which is your Kentucky driver’s permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.
You must have your Kentucky permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for an intermediate license. During that time, you’ll need to have 60 hours driving practice with 10 hours of those being at night. There are also limits to your permit and they are:
- Permit holders must drive with licensed driver over 21 years old accompanying them in the front passenger seat.
- Permit holders under the age of 18 are not allowed to drive between the hours of 12 midnight and 6 a.m. unless the driver can demonstrate a good cause for driving such as emergencies, school or work-related activities.
- Permit holders shall not operate a motor vehicle at any time with more than 1 unrelated person under 20 years of age in the vehicle
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited. All drivers under the age of 21 are subject to “Zero Alcohol Tolerance” (Defined as.02 Blood Alcohol Concentration)
- All drivers are subject to Kentucky’s point system. A driver under the age of 18 who accumulates more than 6 points, or a driver age 18 and over who accumulates 12 points may have their driving privilege suspended.
- No serious moving violations for those under the age of 18.
- Buckle Up, it’s the Law! Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt at all times
This is the point also where you’ll need to get driving instruction. You can select a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet approved 4-hour driver education program either in the classroom or online.
When you’re ready to enroll in a Kentucky driver’s education program, find a driving school to get started.
Once you’ve completed the required amount of instruction, you can apply for your Kentucky intermediate license.
Getting your Kentucky intermediate license
Receiving your Kentucky Intermediate license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. Those are reaching the age of 16 and a half.
Driving Skills Test: You will be required to pass a driving test with a Kentucky State Police driving examiner who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely and will place an “Intermediate License” sticker on the driver’s permit.
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.
Once you’re ready, you can schedule a driving skills exam at your nearest Kentucky State Police testing branch.
If you fail this test, you can retake it after 7 days. Failing the test six times results in a six-month waiting period before you can take it again.
Vision Test: You will need to take a vision test. If you need glasses be sure you’re wearing them.
The application fee for your Kentucky license is $21.50 for a standard 4-year Driver’s License, $43 for a standard 8-year Driver’s License, $24 for a 4-year REAL ID Driver’s License, and $48 for an 8-year REAL ID Driver’s License.
Your Kentucky Intermediate 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:
- Limit 1 unrelated person under 20 years of age (secondary offense)
- Drivers receiving a moving traffic conviction under KRS 186, 189, 189A.will have to restart the 180-day Intermediate License waiting period.
- Intermediate license holders must complete one of the following New Driver Education Programs before moving to the next licensing phase: – Graduated Licensing Course (Free 4-hour course provided by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in the drivers’ home county) High School Drivers Education Course or a similar course offered by a Kentucky Community College, Vocational School or Job Corps. Private Driver Training course at a Division of Driver License approved driver training school.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited. All drivers under the age of 21 are subject to “Zero Alcohol Tolerance” (Defined as.02 Blood Alcohol Concentration).
- A driver under the age of 18 who accumulates more than 6 points may have their driving privilege suspended.
- Still no serious moving violations for those under the age of 18
- Keep buckling up, it’s the Law! Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt at all times.
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 between the hours of 12 midnight and 6 a.m. unless the driver can demonstrate a good cause for driving such as emergencies, school or work-related activities.
Getting your full unrestricted Kentucky 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 18 years old and have had your restricted license for 6 months, you can get your full unrestricted Kentucky license.
This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated Kentucky 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 Kentucky 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 answers to some common questions you might have as you start out on your KY licensing journey.
Can I drive with an out-of-state instructional permit in Kentucky?
Kentucky does allow drivers to travel through the state with permits from other states, as long as the parameters of the out-of-state permit are followed, and the permit is always in the immediate possession of the driver.
Can I replace a lost or stolen learner’s permit?
You can replace a lost or stolen learner’s permit by visiting your nearest Kentucky Driver Licensing Regional and filling out a Driver License/ID Card Renewal form. You can also print out the form and mail it in, or send it via email.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet information
For comprehensive information on everything related to the Kentucky graduated licensing program, visit the Kentucky State Police Department. You can also call 1-502-782-1800.
Prepare for your license journey by taking some practice tests after reviewing the Kentucky Driver Manual.