Tennessee Learner's Permit and Driver’s License

GDL requirements

Full Privilege Minimum Age
Learner Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
Learner Stage: Minimum Duration (Months)
Intermediate Stage: Minimum Age (Years/Months)
Intermediate Stage: Nighttime Driving Restriction
11 p.m. – 6 a.m.
Intermediate Stage: Passenger Restrictions (Except Family, Unless Noted)
No more than 1 passenger

How to Get a Tennessee Driver’s License

Tennessee 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.

Completing the TN GDL program takes about 2 years. You can apply for a learner permit at 15. Drive for 6 months and complete your supervised hours for your intermediate license. Drive in good standing 6 more months and turn 18, or graduate high school, to get your TN driver’s license.

The steps below have the details you’ll need to know to get your full, unrestricted Tennessee driver’s license.

Get your Tennessee learner’s permit

You can start the process to get your license at 15 years old. To get ready for driving, you can download the  Tennessee Driver License Manual and start reading through it. At your local Tennessee DOS location, you’ll need the following:

You will also need to pay the fee of $10.50 by debit card or check.

While there, you’ll also have to pass the Class D knowledge exam. This test is 30 questions, and you’ll have to get 24 out of 30 correctly to pass.

You will be given an official paper which is your Tennessee learner permit. You’ll need to have that with you every time you’re behind the wheel.

You must have your TN learner permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for a TN intermediate license. During that time, you’ll need to have 50 hours of driving practice with 10 of those being at night.

There are also limits to your permit. You cannot drive unless accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years or older sitting in the front seat. You’re also not allowed drive between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M.

This is the point it’s a good idea to seek out driving instruction. Though not required in Tennessee, its recommended to help you become the safest driver possible. The right driving education will equip you with the driving skills to keep you safe for a lifetime.

When you’re ready to enroll, find a driving school to get started.

Once you’ve met your requirements it’s time to apply for a Tennessee intermediate license.

Get your Tennessee intermediate restricted driver license

Receiving your license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. Those are reaching the age of 16, holding their learner’s permit for 180 days, and completing their required supervised driving time.

If you’re under 18 you will also need proof of school attendance or progress as well as a teenage affidavit of financial responsibility.

Driving Skills Test: You will be required to pass a driving test with an TN DOS evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely. You must provide your own vehicle for this test. It must be registered, insured, and in good working order.

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.

The application fee for your Intermediate Restricted License is $24.50

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:

  • You may not drive from 11:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M.
  • You cannot have more than one passenger in your vehicle

Get your Tennessee intermediate unrestricted license 

When you are 17 years old and have held your intermediate restricted license for at least 12 months, you become eligible for your Tennessee Intermediate Unrestricted License. You will also have to meet the following requirements:

  • You cannot have been found at fault for a traffic accident
  • You cannot have accumulated more than 6 points on your license
  • You may not have received 2 safety belt violations

Meet the requirements and you move on to your final step, getting a full, unrestricted Tennessee driver’s license.

Get your full unrestricted Tennessee driver’s license

Turning 18 is the final step. Upon doing so you lose intermediate driver status and are granted a regular driver license. You can also fulfil this requirement by graduating high school or getting your GED, whichever happens first.

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 Tennessee 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 TN graduated licensing journey.

Can I drive with an out-of-state learner's permit in Tennessee?

Yes. As long as you have a licensed driver with you and follow all graduated licensing restrictions issued by your home state, you can drive in Tennessee with an out-of-state learner’s permit.

What happens if my learner permit or intermediate license are lost or stolen?

Depending on your permit or license status, as well as the information on file with Tennessee Driver Services, you can apply for a replacement online. You can also find your local driver services center and apply in person.

Tennessee State Driver Services information

For comprehensive information on everything related to the Tennessee graduated licensing program, visit the Tennessee Driver Services. Offices You can also inquire by phone: (615)-251-5166.

Prepare for your license journey by reviewing the Tennessee Driver License Manual, and taking a few practice tests.