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Apply for Tennessee Learners Permit

Tennessee Drivers Permit Application

Obtaining a learners permit is the first steps for anyone trying to get a drivers license in Tennessee before the 18th birthday. If you are at least 18 years of age, applying for a Tennessee drivers permit is optional, however you must obtain a learner permit if you would like to practice driving before taking the road skills test. Applying for a Tennessee DOS drivers permit is easy, you just need to visit a local DOS branch, take a vision exam and a learner's permit test, based on the state driving rules. Keep in mind that Tennessee learner's permit applicants who are under 18 years of age must receive parental consent prior to submitting their application.

Graduated Drivers License

You may be aware of the fact that teen drivers are much more likely to be involved in a traffic accident that older drivers. A number of factors are in play here, however lack of driving experience and failure to treat driving responsibly are two major contributors to these statistics.

In order to reduce the number of teenagers that are injured out our roads every years, the Department of Safety in Tennessee has developed a separate licensing procedure that must be followed by everyone who is applying for a Tennessee learners permit before their 18th birthday. This licensing procedure came to be known as Tennessee's graduated drivers license program and it comprises of a number of additional restrictions and requirements that must be observed by teenage drivers. The Tennessee DOS drivers manual contains more information about the program.

Required Testing

Driving is not a joke and before you are allowed behind the wheel, the DOS will want to make sure that you are physically fit to operate a vehicle and that you have the knowledge required to do so. Before you can be issued with a Tennessee learners permit, you are required to take a vision exam and a computerized knowledge test on Tennessee driving rules.

Vision Screening

A vision test is a much for all drivers permit applicants, no matter the age and previous driving experience. You are required to have at least 20/40 vision in each eye individually and both eyes together. You are allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses during the screening process, however if you do, a restrictions will be placed onto your driver's permit that will require you to wear them at all times while driving. Those who are unable to meet these minimum requirements or are unwilling to take the vision exam at the DOS are required to have an eye specialist fill out an eye statement for the DOS to evaluate.

Learners Permit Test

The permit test was designed to evaluate your familiarity with Tennessee driving rules, traffic signs and safe driving principles. The test consist of multiple choice questions and is roughly divided into four equal sections, that are as following:

  1. Traffic signs and signals
  2. Safe driving principles
  3. Rules of the road
  4. Drugs and alcohol

The learners permit test in Tennessee is provided in a computerized form, however you may request to take a regular pen-and-paper exam as well. Testing is available in a few languages. If you require an interpreter for the test, you will need to notify the branch manager of this in advance.

Those who would like to see what the permit test is like are welcome to take a Tennessee practice permit test that covers the same topics as the real exam. Mind you, these won't be the real permit test questions, but they should still give you a fair idea of how well you know the rules.

Paperwork Required

Tennessee has very strict requirements when it comes to identity verification and you are required to present the following paperwork at the time when you submit your application for a permit:

  • proof of identity
  • proof of Tennessee residency
  • proof of age
  • Social Security Number

Learners permit applicants under 18 years of age are also required to show proof of school attendance. A parent or legal guardian must accompany the applicant to the DOS office to sign a teenage affidavit financial responsibility form.

Applying for Drivers Permit - Under 18 Years of Age

The minimum age for applying for a Tennessee driver's permit is 15 years, however if you want to submit the application on your birthday, you should start preparing well in advance. The DOS will require you to take a knowledge exam on the day you submit the application, so you should start learning the driving rules before you visit a DOS branch. A good way to learn the rules is to take a Tennessee drivers education class. Keep in mind that drivers ed is not mandatory.

Once you pass the required tests, you are issued with a learners permit that allows you to start your driving practice. The permit grants you limited driving privileges and you will do well observing all Tennessee learner permit restrictions until you take a drivers test and apply for a Tennessee drivers license.

Applying for Learners Permit - 18 Years of Age and Older

Those who are at least 18 years of age are not required to apply for a DOS learners permit at all, however you should choose this option only if you have previously held a drivers license and have some driving experience that will allow you to pass the Tennessee driving test. Otherwise, make sure to pick up your learners permit and practice driving before you take the road skills exam. You may even take a few professional driving lessons, but they are not mandatory.

Even though you are not required to apply for a learner's permit before receiving a Tennessee drivers license, testing procedures remain the same and you have to take a vision exam, a drivers permit test and the road skills exam before you can be issued with a license.

Operating Under A Permit

When you are driving under a learners permit, you have to remember that the permit was issued to you for the sole purpose of allowing you to practice driving and it does not grant you full driving privileges. You have to observe all restrictions that apply to your Tennessee DOS permit, for example, you are not allowed to drive alone and must have a licensed driver at least 21 years of age seated in the front seat next to you whenever you are driving. Teenagers must also satisfy all of the graduated license requirements before upgrading to a drivers license.