How to Get a Pennsylvania Driver’s License
Getting a driver’s license in Pennsylvania doesn’t have to be stressful. Because the goal is to have safe, responsible drivers on Pennsylvania’s roadways, there are certain steps that need to be taken that lead a novice driver through the Graduated Licensing Program.
You can start the GLD program in Pennsylvania at age 15½, and it will take about a year to complete. At 16 you can pass a knowledge test for your permit. Take driver education and hold it for 6 months for your junior license. Drive with it until 17, and you are eligible for your full license.
The steps below have the details you’ll need to know to get your full, unrestricted Pennsylvania driver’s license.
Get your Pennsylvania junior learner’s permit
Getting a copy of the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual is a great place to start. Studying the manual will give the new driver a good overview of the laws and regulations they’ll need to know to pass the Knowledge Test.
To apply for the permit, the teen will need a filled out Non-Commercial Learner’s Permit Application form DL-180 and a Parent or Guardian Consent Form DL-180TD. An official copy of their birth certificate, and a physical copy of their Social Security card are also required.
Your PA learner’s permit application fee is $35.50 and includes the cost of your 4 year Pennsylvania senior driver’s license.
It’s important to remember that you’ll need your doctor or another health care provider to fill out the Physician’s Report of Examination section of your DL-180 form. You will be examined for any medical conditions which might prevent you from driving safely.
Before receiving your Pennsylvania learner’s permit, you will also have to pass a vision test and a written knowledge exam.
The knowledge exam consists of 18 multiple choice questions based on the information found in the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual. You’ll need to answer 15 questions correctly to pass.
Consider taking some practice tests before exam day.
Don’t worry if you don’t pass the first time. You can take it as many times as you’ll need, but you will have to wait at least one day between attempts.
Once you’ve got your paperwork in order, and passed your vision and knowledge tests, congratulations! You will now have your Pennsylvania junior learner’s permit!
Driving with your PA junior learner’s permit
After getting their Initial Learner’s Permit, the novice driver will need to have six months of driving experience. This will include 65 hours of skill-building driving including no less than 10 hours of nighttime driving and five hours of bad weather driving.
This is the time when completing a driver’s education course and getting behind-the-wheel instruction is important for the novice driver to learn how to correctly and legally operate a vehicle on Pennsylvania roadways.
Not only is completing a driver education course a requirement for licensure, but it’s also an excellent way for a teen driver to get the instruction and practice they need to become responsible, safe drivers.
If you’re ready to begin a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation approved driver education course, find a driving school to get started.
There are restrictions to what a new driver allowed to do with a Pennsylvania learner’s permit. They are:
- Must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age or a parent, guardian, person in loco parentis or spouse who is at least 18 years of age and licensed with the same or higher-class vehicle that appears on their learner’s permit.
- May not be behind the wheel between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. They may travel for employment and for volunteer or charitable service during these hours, but they must carry proper documentation.
- The number of passengers must not exceed the number of seat belts in the vehicle. This applies to all drivers under age 18.
The Initial Learner’s Permit will be suspended for 90 days if a driver accumulates six or more points or are convicted of a single high-speed violation.
Get your Pennsylvania junior driver’s license
When you have met all the requirements and feel like you’re ready, you can apply for their Junior Driver’s License. The appointment for this test is usually made at the same time that they receive their
PA learner’s permit. At this appointment, you will be administered the road test by a Pennsylvania DMV evaluator.
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.
At the Driver license Center appointment, they will need to bring their valid learner’s permit, the original notarized Parent or Guardian Certification Form DL-180C, proof of vehicle insurance, and proof of vehicle registration.
If a person applies to get their license at age 18, the process is different. Someone 18 years of age or older is not required to meet the 65 hours of supervised driving or wait the six months. However, they’ll still need a learner’s permit before getting their license and must pass the road driving test. However, the license that will be issued is the unrestricted PA Senior Driver’s License. This rule applies to all adults who are getting licensed for the first time or who are new adult residents in Pennsylvania.
There are also restrictions to a PA Junior Driver’s License. These are:
- They may not be behind the wheel between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Exceptions for employment and volunteer or charitable service will apply, but they must carry proper documentation regarding their need to travel.
- They may not carry more than one passenger under the age of 18 who is not an immediate family member unless one of their parents or guardians is in the vehicle. After the first six months, the limit is increased to no more than three passengers under the age of 18 who are not immediate family members unless one of their parents or guardians is in the vehicle with them. The increased limit does not apply to any junior driver who has ever been involved in a crash in which they were partially or fully responsible or who is convicted of any driving violation.
- The number of passengers must not exceed the number of seat belts in the vehicle, and all seatbelts must be worn. This applies to all passengers and drivers under the age of 18.
Get your PA unrestricted senior driver’s license
The driver may now apply for a regular driver’s license if they are at least age 17½ and have had their Junior Driver’s License for one year. In addition, the driver will need to have passed a driver training course approved by the PA Department of Education, must not been involved in a crash for which they are partially or fully responsible, have not been convicted of any violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, and have the consent of their parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least 18 years of age.
If they meet these requirements, they may apply for a regular driver’s license by submitting an Application for Change from a Junior Driver’s License to a Regular Non-Commercial Driver’s License form DL-59.
Whether you’ve just finished your Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation information
For comprehensive information on everything related to the Pennsylvania graduated licensing program, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Transportation. You can also call 1-717-412-5300 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Friday.
Prepare for your license journey by reviewing the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual, and taking a few practice tests.