Getting Your License

Driving with an Instruction Permit

To legally drive with an instruction permit, you must:

  • Have a valid permit (not expired) and;
  • Be accompanied by a 5-year licensed driver (their license must be valid, but doesn’t have to be a Washington State driver license).

Driver education:

  • Formal driver education may be the most important class teenagers take. Driver education promotes critical lifelong skills, proper safety belt use, alcohol-and-drug-free driving, respect, courtesy, cooperation, and healthy behaviors and choices. The Washington driver training program is saving lives, reducing injuries, and dramatically reducing the negative impacts of teen driving by making our teens better and safer drivers.
  • Parents, educators, state officials, students, and community members need to create powerful partnerships to support teaching and learning in every community. We need to guarantee that young drivers are taught preventive behaviors to manage risk. Since driving is a lifelong skill, it is important to establish good habits early. Ask if your local school offers a driver education course. If not, there are driver training schools throughout the state.
  • When your teen applies for a license, a Washington Traffic Safety Education Course completion satisfies the 30 hours of classroom and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training requirements. Your teen will still need to complete 50 hours of practice driving, 10 of which must happen at night, with you or another licensed driver with at least 5 years of driving experience.

License requirements

To get your driver license, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Be a Washington resident (your license will show your address).
  • Successfully complete a driver training course.
  • Have your instruction permit for at least 6 months.
  • Not have been convicted of any traffic violations within 6 months of applying for license.
  • Not have been convicted of any alcohol or drug offense while holding an instruction permit.

Intermediate license laws for teen drivers

If you’re under 18, you’ll be issued an intermediate driver license and must follow these laws:

Driving with passengers

  • First 6 months: No passengers under 20 years old, except for immediate family members (spouse, child, stepchild, or siblings, either by birth or by marriage).
  • Next 6 months: No more than 3 passengers under 20 years old who aren’t members of your immediate family.

Nighttime driving

  • For the first 12 months, you can’t drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you’re with a licensed driver 25 years or older. The only exceptions are driving for agricultural purposes and transporting farm products or supplies under the direction of a farmer as described in RCW 46.20.070.

No cell phones

  • You aren’t permitted to use wireless devices while driving, even with a hands-free device. This includes talking on cell phones and sending or receiving text messages. You may only use a wireless device to report an emergency.

How to get your license:

  • Pass a driver training course.
  • Only permit holders containing a photo are eligible to apply online for their intermediate driver license.
  • Hold an instruction permit for 6 months
  • Complete at least 50 hours of driving practice (including 10 hours at night) with someone who’s been licensed for 5 years or more.
  • Pass the knowledge and skills test at any testing location
    • If you’re testing at a training school, they charge a separate fee which isn’t included in our license application fee.
  • The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program and the RoadReady® mobile app are tools to help parents during the supervised driving phase.

How to get your license online:

  • Your parent or guardian must be with you so they can give permission online for you to get your license.
  • Pay the licensing fee with a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express debit or credit card (no gift cards).
  • Print the receipt. It’s your temporary license. Since it doesn’t include your photo, you can’t use it as identification.
  • Your permanent license will have the same photo as your instruction permit. The Washington Department of Licensing will mail it to the address we have on file.

At a driver licensing office, you will need to:

  • Show you’ve passed a traffic safety course.
    • Your driver training school must upload your electronic course completion before you come into the licensing office.
    • If you don’t have your certificate and the school has closed, email us at tse@dol.wa.gov.
  • Bring the Parental Authorization Affidavit that your parents:
    • Will sign in person at the office.
    • Have signed and notarized, if they can’t go to the office with you.
  • Show proof of identity.
    • Provide your Social Security number, or sign a declaration if you don’t have one.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Have your photo taken, if necessary.
  • Pay the $35 application fee and $54 licensing fee ($89 total) with cash, check, MasterCard or American Express credit/debit card, or some types of Visa debit cards.
    • There’s a vendor-charged fee on all credit/debit card purchases.