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Delaware Graduated License Program - DE Graduated Drivers License Requirements

Delaware Graduated Drivers License

Delaware has its own graduated drivers license system that targets teenage drivers and aims at reducing the number of traffic accidents that involve drivers between 15 and 20 years of age. Similar programs are utilized by most states around the country and although they have minor differences, they all feature the same key elements - division of the licensing procedure into a series of steps, compulsory drivers education classes at certain stages of the program and a mandatory waiting period between issuance of a permit and a license. Remember: if you are over 18 years of the, the Delaware graduated drivers license program does not apply to you and you can obtain a drivers license through a simplified application process.

In order to understand the rules that are set by the program, let's take a closer look at the goals declared by the graduated license system and the means it uses to achieve these goals. Here is what the Delaware drivers handbook says about the GDL system:

“The graduated driver license program is designed to reduce the high accident and fatality rate of minor drivers. Minors will receive additional supervised driving experience and reduced exposure to high risk driving situations. The parent or sponsor will actively participate in training the minor and determining when the minor is capable of increased driving authority.”

As you can see, the program targets teenage drivers and tries to minimize the risks faced by these drivers while on the road. You may ask yourself why are teenagers the target for the Delaware graduated drivers license program and not everyone who chooses to apply for a Delaware drivers license. Shouldn't all driver's license applicants be treated the same way, no matter the age, if they have roughly the same amount of driving experience?

Many studies conducted on the subject show that teenagers treat driving much more recklessly than older drivers. While older drivers usually recognize their lack of experience and driving skills and take actions to minimize any possible danger, teenager tend to overestimate their driving ability. In addition to this inability to judge the situation correctly, teen drivers often fail to take safety precautions, such as wearing a seat belt, so in case of a crash, the damages sustained by the driver and passengers are much more extensive and life threatening, hence a high mortality rate for such accidents.

That's why the Delaware graduated driver's license program targets only younger drivers and does not force anyone who's older than 18 years of age to go through the same procedures when applying for a Delaware drivers permit or driver's license. However, one thing remains the same, no matter how old you are - you still have to pass both the Delaware permit test and the drivers test before you can be issued with a license. Considering the fact that more than a half of the first time test takers fail the permit exam, you may wish to take a free Delaware permit practice test before you go in for the real thing.

Delaware Graduated License Stages

Although the graduated license programs vary between states, they are all combined by the same principle that is used by virtually every state around the nation - the graduated license program divides the licensing procedure into a number of separate steps or stages, as opposed to granting an applicant with full driving privileges right away. Every applicant has to spend considerable amount of time at each stage, mastering new skills, before proceeding on to the next level. At the moment, the graduated license program in Delaware has the following key stages:

  1. Pre-permit, drivers ed
  2. Learners permit
  3. Full drivers license

Furthermore, the drivers permit stage could be subdivided into two separate smaller stages, since the restrictions that are imposed into the permit holder vary depending on the amount of time the permit is held for.

Delaware Drivers Education, Pre-Permit

According to the current graduated driver's license law, you can apply for a learners permit as early as 16 years of age, but there are certain things that must be done before you can apply. Every teenager who is under 18 years of age must complete a Delaware drivers education course and obtain an official Delaware Driver Education Certificate (Blue Certificate) prior to taking the permit exam. You can usually start the course six months prior to the legal permit age.

Delaware Learners Permit

There are two types of learner permits available in Delaware - a Level One learners permit and a Temporary Instruction Permit. The temporary instruction permit is reserved for applicants who are at least 18 years of age, so if you are subject to the Delaware graduate drivers license program, you are not eligible for this type of a permit and must be issued with a level one drivers permit. The minimum age for applying for this type of a permit is 16 years.

Once you pass the permit test and receive your level one learners permit, you can start practicing driving with your sponsor, the one who signed your application for a drivers license. Please note that your sponsor must be at least 25 years of age, hold a valid drivers license and has not less than five years of driving experience. When you are operating under a permit, please make sure to observe the following Delaware permit restrictions:

  • no person other than your supervising driver can be seated in the front seat
  • you cannot use a cell phone or any other communication device while driving
  • for the first six months, you cannot drive alone and must have a supervising driver accompany you at all times
  • for the second six months, you can drive alone between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.. If you want to drive outside these hours, you must have a supervising driver accompany you
  • for the first six months, no more than one passenger, other than the supervising driver, who is not blood related to the driver, is allowed to be in the vehicle
  • for the second six months, no more than three passengers, other than the supervising driver, who are not blood related to the driver, are allowed to be in the vehicle
  • seat belts must be worn by everyone in the vehicle at all times

The permit must be held for at least one year before you can go ahead and take a Delaware drivers test. During this period, you must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving with a sponsor. 10 of these hours must be completed at night.

Unrestricted Drivers License

When you successfully meet the above requirements and pass the drivers test, you can apply for a class D drivers license that will give you unrestricted driving privileges. Please note that you must observe the graduated license rules at all times until you receive your unrestricted license. If you are caught breaking the rules, your driving privilege may be suspended or revoked.