How to Get a Minnesota Driver’s License
The Minnesota 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 Minnesota license to a full license.
Completing the Minnesota GDL takes about a year and a half. First, you’ll complete a Minnesota DVS approved driver training course and pass a written test for your instruction permit. Then, 50 hours of supervised driving for a Minnesota provisional license. Drive with it for 12 months, or until you turn 18, and you’ll receive your full Minnesota license.
The steps below have the details you’ll need to know in order to get your full, unrestricted Minnesota license.
Get Your Minnesota Instruction Permit
You can start the process to get your Minnesota license at age 15. To get ready for driving, you can download the Minnesota Driver’s Manual and start reading through it. At your local Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) location, you’ll need to fill out an application, bring in proof of identity, and pay a fee of $19.25 by debit card or check.
Before being issued your MN instruction permit, you’ll have to pass a vision screening and a written knowledge test, which will cover Minnesota traffic laws and road signs. There are 40 questions, and you need to get 32 correct to pass. Consider working through some practice exams before you take it.
If you fail, you can retake the test the next day, but the third time you take the test, and any times after that, will require a $10 fee to be paid.
You will be given an official paper which is your instruction permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.
You have to have your Minnesota permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for a provisional license. During that time, you’ll need to have 50 hours driving practice with 15 hours of those being at night. There are also limits to your permit and they are:
- If you are under 18 years of age, the supervising driver must be 21 years of age or older, every occupant must wear a seat belt or use a child passenger restraint system, and you may not use, or talk on, a cell phone while driving, with or without a hands-free cell phone device.
This is the point also where you’ll need to get driving instruction. The options for this include being enrolled in behind-the-wheel instruction and have supervised instruction with an adult 21 years or older.
When you’re ready to enroll in MN DPS approved driver education, find a driving school to get started.
Once you’ve completed the required amount of instruction, you can apply for your provisional license.
Get Your Minnesota Provisional License
Receiving your Minnesota provisional license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. Those are reaching the age of 16.
Driving Skills Test: You will be required to pass a driving test with a DVS evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely.
Once you’re ready, you can schedule a driving skills exam at your nearest Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services location.
Before you take the test, you should check out the Top 10 Automatic Fails on Driver Tests, so you’ll know what not to do on test day.
If you fail this test, you’ll need to make another appointment to reschedule your next test. If you fail a second time, your third test and subsequent tests will require you to pay the testing fee again each time.
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 license is $32.
Your Minnesota provisional 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:
- For the first six months of licensure, only one passenger under the age of 20 is permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- During the second six months of licensure, no more than three passengers under the age of 20 are permitted, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian
- Passengers under 20 who are members of the provisional driver’s immediate family are permitted during both time periods.
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:
During the first six months of licensure, driving is prohibited from midnight until 5 a.m. unless the provisional driver is:
- Accompanied by a licensed driver at least 25 years of age.
- Driving between home and work.
- Driving between home and a school event for which the school does not provide transportation.
- Driving for employment purposes.
Get Your Minnesota Unrestricted Full 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 provisional license for 1 year, you can get your full Minnesota license.
This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated Minnesota 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 Minnesota 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 and 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 MN licensing journey.
Can I drive with an out-of-state instructional permit in Minnesota?
Minnesota 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. However, if you are under the age of 15, you will not be allowed to drive in Minnesota
Can I replace a lost or stolen learner’s permit?
You can replace a lost or stolen learner’s permit by going to any DVS Driver’s License Office location. They advise using their pre-application feature for faster service.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety information
For comprehensive information on everything related to the Minnesota graduated licensing program, visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. You can also call (651) 297-3298 between 8 am to 4:30 pm on Mondays – Friday.
Prepare for your license journey by reviewing the Minnesota Driver’s Manual.