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Tennessee Drivers License

Tennessee Drivers License

If you plan on driving on Tennessee roads, you will need to obtain the Tennessee drivers license. That is, of course, if you are not holding a license issued by another state. If you are holding a drivers license issued by a different state and you plan on residing in Tennessee for more than three months, you will need to surrender your out-of-state license and get the Tennessee driver's license.

Types of Drivers Licenses

Although driving various vehicles may seem similar, operating heavy machinery is a completely different level of skill. This is why the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) offers different types of driving licenses. At the moment, you can choose between different driving classes:

  • Class D. Regular drivers license. Allows for operation of most regular vehicles.
  • Class H. “Hardship” license for minors under 6 years of age.
  • Class M. Motorcycle drivers license. Can come as an endorsement to your regular drivers license.
  • Class F. Allows for operation of vehicles for hire, such as a limo or a cab.
  • Classes A, B and C. Commercial drivers licenses, CDLs.

Pretty much every first-time license applicant start with the class D drivers license. You can upgrade to a different type of driver license when you gain some driving skills and experience.

Graduated Drivers License

The graduated drivers license system is what keeps the teen drivers out of trouble when they are out the on road. The occurrence of driving accidents among teenage drivers is much higher than among other age groups. The main factors that contribute to this are the proneness to risk taking behavior and lack of experience, which frequently leads to a failure to correctly judge the on road situation.

The graduated driver's license system counteracts these factors by introducing a multi-step licensing procedure for drivers who are under 18 years of age. The learners permit, intermediate restricted license and intermediate unrestricted license are all part of the system and almost every teenage drivers license applicant has to go through all the steps before receiving the regular Tennessee drivers license.

Drivers Permit

The drivers permit is your first major step on your way towards the drivers license. The learners permit will allow you to get behind the wheel and gain some hands-on experience before you take your road test at the DOS.

Before you can be issued with the permit, you need to prove that you are no stranger to the Tennessee driving rules and you do that by taking a permit test. The exam covers the road rules, traffic regulations and road signs and if you want to nail it the first time, you better prepare for it in advance.

Now, the best way to prepare for the test is to take a state-certified drivers education program. However, since drivers education classes in Tennessee are not compulsory, many students choose to skip it and study with the help of the drivers manual. There is nothing wrong with that and the official Tennessee drivers handbook is a great way for you to learn the rules. You may also want to take a few permit practice tests before you visit the DOS, just to see what kind of questions will be on the real exam.

When you are ready, visit the DOS for your drivers permit exam. Be prepared to do the following:

  • present proof of citizenship
  • present proof of birth date
  • present proof of ID
  • present your Social Security card
  • pay the permit application fee
  • take a vision test
  • take a written exam

If you pass the tests and fulfill all other requirements, you will be awarded with your PD drivers license, which is also knows as the drivers permit.

If you fail the permit exam, the number of days you have to wait until you can retake the test depends on how many questions you answer correctly.

Upgrading to Drivers License

The learners permit allows for supervised driving only and it is intended to give you the chance to practice your driving skills before you take the on-road exam. Applicants who are under 18 years of age must hold the permit for at least 180 days before applying for a license. Applicants who are over 18 can take the road test the same day they pass the written exam, provided the drivers license office has an opening, which is a rare occurrence. In most cases, you have to schedule your road test at least a week in advance.

The DOS does not provide vehicles for the on-road testing, so it will be up to you to show up with a vehicle on your test date. Most applicants borrow vehicles from relatives or rent cars from local driving schools. The vehicle must be properly insured and titled, it must also pass a basic safety inspection.

When you pass the road test, you will receive your Tennessee drivers license on the spot. Applicants who are under 18 years of age will receive the intermediate restricted drivers license at this point.

If you fail the road test, you will need to schedule another appointment and retake the exam. Additional fees may apply.