Texas Graduated License - TX Graduated Drivers License Program
Today, most of the states have graduated license programs that were designed to keep young drivers safe during their first years of driving. Texas is no exception to this rule and the 2013 Texas graduated drivers license program features the same key elements as GDL programs of other states, such as mandatory drivers training programs, supervised driving hours and prolonged drivers permit holding periods. Texas graduated license program applies not only to drivers under age of 18, it has been extended to cover everyone under the age of 25, however they may follow a simplified application procedure when trying to obtain their Texas drivers license. Remember that regardless of the fact whether you have to observe the 2013 Texas graduated driver's license law or not, you will still have to take your Texas permit test before you can be issued with a license!
The graduated drivers license program in Texas was enacted in 2002 and has undergone little change until 2009. In 2009, Texas graduated license system was complimented with mandatory drivers license testing for everyone. In 2010, 20 additional hours of supervised driving were also added to the graduated drivers license requirements. The program was designed to reduce the number of traffic accidents among teen drivers and it achieves this goal by enforcing compulsory education and permit restrictions onto all drivers who are younger than 18.
Texas Graduated License Stages
Although officially the 2013 Texas graduated drivers license system has two phases, the whole process of obtaining a drivers license can be divided into 3 key steps:
- Phase 1 - Learners permit
- Phase 2 - Restricted (provisional) license
- Unrestricted drivers license
Every teenage drivers license applicant enters Texas graduated drivers license program by applying for a learners permit. The permit, which allows for supervised driving only, is followed up by the provisional drivers license. After having held the restricted license for at least 12 months, the applicant is issued with a full Texas drivers license.
Phase 1 - Texas Drivers Permit
The minimum age for applying for a Texas learner's permit is 15. If you are applying for the learners permit before you turn 16, you must be enrolled in one of the state-approved Texas drivers education classes and you are required to present your proof of enrollment at the DPS office before you can be issued with a permit. You have quite a bit of freedom when it comes to choosing a drivers education program and you can usually pick between completing the course through your high school, going to a local driving school or taking one of the Texas parent taught drivers education classes online.
The application procedure itself is quite simple - you show up at the office, present the required documents and take your Texas permit test. If you pass the permit test and your paperwork is in order, you get your Texas driver permit. If you wish to see if you are ready for the real thing before you hit the DPS office, you can take a free Texas drivers practice test online. Make sure you take the test at least couple of times and see what your average score is like (you should be scoring at least 90% on practice tests every time you take them). If you are still not satisfied, go ahead and take another practice exam, such as this Texas practice permit test or the Texas DMV practice test! Cover as many permit test questions as possible, it will save you a lot of headache at the office!
Once you have your permit, you can start driving under the supervision of another licensed driver who is at least 21 years old. The graduated license law dictates that you must hold your permit for at least 6 months before you can proceed to Phase 2 of the Texas graduated driver's license program. The law also mandates that you complete at least 36 hours of supervised driving, you parents must log these hours and present the driving log form at the DPS when you will be applying for your restricted driver license.
Phase 2 - Texas Provisional Drivers License
Provisional or restricted Texas driver's license is the second part of the Texas graduated license law. You must be at least 16 years old, have held your driver permit for at least 6 months and have successfully completed your drivers education program before you become eligible for the restricted license. Apart from these requirements, you must also pass your Texas driving test at the DPS.
The restricted drivers license allows you to drive without a supervisor, but it still holds certain license restrictions. These restrictions will be lifted in 12 months, provided you keep a clean driving record.
Texas Graduated License Restrictions
Texas learners permit restrictions that are part of the graduated license law can be divided into two groups - those that apply to the learners permit and those that apply for the restricted license.
Learners permit restrictions
- Supervised driving only. You are not allowed to be on the road unless there is another driver who holds a valid Texas drivers license and who is at least 21 years old seated next to you.
- No cell phones. You cannot operate any communication devices, either hand-held or hands-free, while driving.
- Drivers ed. You must complete a drivers education course before you can apply for your license.
Provisional license restrictions
- Curfew. You cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. If you are required to make a trip during this period, you have to be supervised as any learners permit holder.
- Passenger restrictions. You cannot carry more than one passenger who is under 21 years of age unless the passenger is your immediate family member.
- Cell phones. The cell phone restrictions for provisional driver license are the same as for the learners permit.
You can read more about the Texas graduated drivers license program in the official Texas drivers manual.