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Apply for a Washington Learners Permit

Washington Permit Application

Applying for a Washington instruction permit is the first step on the way towards achieving a drivers license. It is a mandatory step for those who are applying for a license before reaching the age of 18 and optional for everyone else. Washington drivers permit applicants under the age of 18 years must observe all graduated license requirements in additional the following general licensing rules. Everyone applying for a Washington learners permit is required to undergo a health evaluation, a vision exam and to take a Washington permit test.

Graduated License Requirements

The graduated drivers license program was introduced in response to high crash rates among teen drivers. Statistics tell us that teen drivers have twice as many accidents per half the miles traveled, when compared to older drivers, which means that they have four times as many accidents. Furthermore, teenage drivers are more likely to be injured in a crash since they frequently disregard safety precautions, such as wearing a seat belt.

The graduated driver's license program in Washington addresses this problem by introducing a number of additional restrictions and requirements that are presented before anyone who chooses to apply for a Washington instruction permit or drivers license before reaching the age of 18. Under the program, completion of a state-approved Washington drivers education class is a must for everyone who wants to obtain a license before their 18th birthday.

Testing Requirements

Since driving can be a dangerous activity, the state needs to make sure that you meet the minimum health and knowledge requirements before you can apply for a Washington drivers permit. At the time of your application, you are required to undergo a number of testing procedures that will help DOL representatives decide whether you are fit to drive. You will be subjected to health evaluation, a vision exam and a learners permit test as part of the application process.

Health Evaluation

When you submit your application for a drivers permit, a DOT representative will ask a number of questions regarding your health. You will be asked whether you have a mental or physical condition or are taking any medication which could impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle. If you do have such a condition, you may be required to undergo an examination by a medical care specialist.

Vision Screening

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.

DOL Permit Test

The permit test is based on the information put forth in the official Washington drivers permit handbook that can be downloaded from the DOL website or picked up at one of the DOL offices. The permit test in Washington covers the state driving rules, road signs and safe driving practices. There are 25 multiple-choice questions on the knowledge exam and you need to answer at least 20 of them correctly.

If you signed up for a drivers education class prior to submitting your application for a drivers permit, you will not be required to take the permit exam at this point. However, you will still need to take the knowledge exam at the time when you apply for your Washington drivers license.

If you want to see whether you are prepared to take on the knowledge exam, check out these Washington permit practice tests. Practice tests should give you a fair idea of how well you can do on the real test.

Required Paperwork

Since you can use your Washington instruction permit as an ID, the DOL needs to make sure that you are really the person you claim to be before a permit can be issued. In order to confirm your identity and to prove that you are eligible to receive a drivers permit, you will need to furnish the following paperwork:

  • proof of identity
  • proof of age
  • Social Security Number
  • proof of citizenship or legal presence
  • proof of Washington residency

If you are under 18 years of age, you cannot apply for an instructional permit without parental consent. A parent or legal guardian needs to sign a Parental Authorization Affidavit and accept responsibility for any damages your driving may cause.

Applying for an Instruction Permit - Under 18 Years of Age

The minimum age when you can apply for a Washington learners permit is 15 years, however you must already be enrolled in a drivers education course by this time. If you choose not to enroll in drivers ed at this point of the application process, you will have to wait until you are at least 15 years, 6 months old before the DOL accepts your application and you will still have to complete a drivers education course if you want to be able to take a Washington driving test before reaching the age of 18 years.

Once the above requirements are met, visit your nearest DOL office, submit the paperwork, take a vision exam and the permit test (you will not have to take a permit test at this point if you have enrolled in a drivers education course). If you pass the tests, you are issued with your driver's permit right there on the spot.

Applying for a Driver's Permit - 18 Years of Age and Older

First time drivers license applicants who are at least 18 years of age don't even have to apply for a drivers permit prior to being issued with a Washington drivers license, however they may wish to receive a permit in order to be able to practice for the drivers test.

When you learned the rules, visit a DOL office near you, take a vision exam and the driver permit test. If you pass, you can either request a learners permit or schedule our driving test right away. We advise that you don't use the latter option unless you have previously held a drivers license issued by a different country and have substantial driving experience.

Operating Under a Permit

The main purpose of your DOL driving permit is to allow you the chance to practice driving, it was not intended to give you full driving privileges. This means that you will need to observe all Washington permit restrictions while operating under a permit. For teenagers, the permit period must last at least six months before they can continue on to the next step of the graduated license program. There is no minimum holding period for adults, but you should try to get at least 50 hours of driving experience before you schedule your road skills test with the DOL.