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Apply for Washington Drivers License

Washington Drivers License Application

Applying for a drivers license can be a confusing experience, especially if you have never been licensed before. Although the Department of Licensing does a great job at making itself available to the public, applying for a Washington drivers license may be an overwhelming experience, with all rules and regulations. Teenager who wish to apply for a Washington driver license must meet graduated license requirements in addition to following regular licensing rules. We hope that this article will make the application process a little easier and you will achieve your Washington driver's license in no time at all.

Driving License - Under 18 Years of Age

Due to the fact that teenager have very high crash rates, those who choose to apply for a Washington drivers license before reaching the age of 18 years will need to meet a number of additional requirements that are set by the state's graduated drivers license program. The program was designed to discourage teen drivers from engaging in activities that may result in a traffic accidents. The graduated drivers license program in Washington is quite similar to graduated license laws in other states and it features the same key elements - mandatory drivers education classes, an intermediate license and a number of permit and license restrictions.

You can enter the program as soon as you are at least 15 years of age, provided you have already signed up for a Washington driver's education class. The class consists of at least 30 hours of classroom instructions and six hours of driving lessons. You may choose not to sign up for the class at this point, however in this case you will not be able to apply for a Washington drivers permit until you are at least 15 years, 6 months old. You will still have to complete a drivers ed class while holding a permit if you want to be able to apply for a Washington drivers license before you are 18 years of age.

Once the above requirements are met, visit a local DOL office where you will file the required paperwork and take a vision exam and a permit test (you will not be taking a permit test at this stage if you are enrolled in a drivers education class). If the paperwork checks out and you pass the tests, you are issued with a Washington instruction permit and you can start practicing driving. While practicing, you must be supervised by someone who holds a valid drivers license and has at least five years of driving experience. The permit must be held for at least six months and you must be at least 16 years of age before you can continue on to the next level of the program. During these months, you are to complete your drivers education course and you must receive at least 50 hours of driving instruction from your supervising driver, including at least 10 hours at nighttime.

When you are done with that stage, you are good to schedule your driving test and apply for a Washington drivers license. Keep in mind, though, that as a minor, you can only be issued with a provisional license and you will have to observe all Washington intermediate license restrictions until your 18th birthday.

Driver's License - 18 Years of Age and Older

If you are at least 18 years of age, the process of obtaining a drivers license is much simpler. Testing requirements are the same, however you do not need to follow the graduated license rules. When you decide that it's time to apply for a drivers license, just go down to a DOL office, file the paperwork and take a vision examination and a drivers permit test. If you pass the tests, you are presented with a choice - you can either request to be issued with a drivers permit or to schedule your driving test right away. If you are applying for the first drivers license, make sure you get a permit first, it will give you the chance to practice driving before you take a drivers license test. Keep in mind that while operating under a permit, you are to observe all Washington drivers permit restrictions. You are not allowed to drive alone and must have another person with a valid driver's license seated next to you when you practice.

When you pass your driving test, you are issued with a full unrestricted Washington driver's license.

Required Testing

In order to make sure that you are physically and mentally fit to drive and that you have the potential to become a safe and responsible driver, you will be required to undergo a number of testing procedures. Health evaluation, vision exam, a driving permit test and a road skills test - these are mandatory for all first time license applicants.

Vision Examination

A vision test is administered by a DOL representative at the time when you submit your application for the Washington instructional permit. If you wear glasses or contact lenses while taking the test, a restrictions will be placed onto your drivers permit and you will be required to wear your glasses or contacts while driving. You may also be restricted to nighttime driving.

In some cases, you may be required to get an examination by an eye care specialist. In this situation, you will be provided with a visual examination report that you will need to present at the DOL next time you submit your application. The report is downloadable from the DOL website.

Knowledge Exam

A drivers permit test in Washington covers the state driving rules, road signs and safe driving practices and may be taken either prior to applying for a drivers permit or at the time when you take your driving test. The written DOL test contains 25 multiple choice questions and you need to get a score of 80% in order to pass.

There are many ways you could prepare for the permit exam and you do not have to pay a dime for most of them. Grab a copy of Washington's drivers license manual and read the rules outlined there. Once done, take a few Washington practice drivers tests. Practice tests cover the same topics as the real DOL test, so they should give you a good estimate of how well you can do on the real exam.

Drivers License Test

This is the ultimate test of your driving ability and your knowledge of safe driving practices. Contrary to the common misconception, the drivers license examiner will not only examine how well you control the vehicle, he will also observe how closely you follow Washington driving regulations. Although there is no magic tip for passing the Washington drivers license test, there is one thing that can help immensely and that is practice. Although the DOL recommends that you receive at least 50 hours of driving practice prior to taking the test, there is no law that says you cannot do more than that. Try to get as much driving practice as you can before you go ahead and submit your application for a Washington driving license.

Required Paperwork

Your Washington drivers license serves a dual purpose - it entitles you to operating a motor vehicle and it can also be used as means of identification. That's why before you can be issued with a licensed, the DOL needs to make sure that you are the person you claim to be and that you are eligible for receiving a license. The following paperwork needs to be present during the application process:

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

If you are applying for a driver's license before your 18th birthday, you will also need to present the following documents:

  • drivers education certificate
  • Parental Authorization Affidavit
  • proof that you complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving

If you have any doubts as to what qualifies as proof of identity, you may check the DOL website for the list of accepted documents.