Washington Drivers Test
Taking a driving test is the final step on the way towards achieving a Washington driver's license. The Washington driving test is the ultimate assessment of your knowledge of driving rules and your ability to control the vehicle. Taking the road skills exam is a must for every first time license applicant, however if you currently hold an out-of-state drivers license, the Department of Licensing may allow you to skip this exam. Keep in mind that you will have to provide a vehicle for the road test and if you plan to take your Washington drivers license test during summer months, make sure to schedule it well in advance as it is usually the busiest period for the DOL.
Driving Test Requirements
You must meet certain requirements before you become eligible to take a Washington driving test. Driving test requirements are age dependent and those who choose to apply for a drivers license before they are 18 years of age will need to observe Washington graduated drivers license rules in addition to general license requirements.
Under 18 Years of Age
The first thing you need to do is to get a Washington instructional permit. The permit will allow you to practice driving and prepare for the driving test at the DOL. We advise that you sign up for a drivers ed course before you submit this application, this way you can apply for a permit as soon as you are 15 years of age (otherwise you have to wait until the age of 15 years, 6 months).
When you meet the above requirements, visit the DOL, take a vision exam, answer a few health-related questions and take a knowledge exam. When you pass the tests, you are issued with a drivers permit that allows you to practice driving.
You need to hold your permit for at least six months and be at least 16 years of age before you can go ahead and schedule your Washington drivers test. Those who chose not to complete a Washington drivers education class prior to applying for a permit must do so now. You must also receive at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, including at least 10 hours of nighttime driving.
18 Years of Age and Older
First time license applicants who are at least 18 years of age have it much easier. In fact, you don't even need to apply for a learners permit, unless you would like to practice before you take your Washington driving test. Just visit the nearest DOL office, complete a vision exam, health screening and the Washington permit test and you can schedule a road skills exam right there. Alternatively, you may ask to be issued with a drivers permit at this point, which would allow you to practice driving before you hit the test. Remember that while operating under a permit, you are to observe all Washington drivers permit restrictions.
Schedule The Drivers Test
Unfortunately, there is no way to schedule a Washington DOL driving test online or over the phone, you actually need to visit the location where you will be taking the exam. However, in order to ensure that the location you are going to go to offers drivers testing services, you may log into the DOL website and look it up.
Things to Bring / What to Expect
One thing you should start concerning yourself with well in advance is the vehicle you will be taking the driving test in. The DOL does not provide vehicles for drivers testing, so you will have to make the arrangements yourself. The vehicle must be properly registered, titled and be in good mechanical condition. You must also have liability insurance for the vehicle. Your driving examiner will check all these things and if something is found to be inadequate, you will have to reschedule your Washington drivers license test.
You must also provide the following documents when submitting your application for a Washington driver's license:
- proof of ID
- proof of age
- Social Security Number
- proof of Washington residency
If you are under 18 years of age at this point, you must present proof of completion of a state-approved drivers education course, a confirmation that you received at least 50 hours of supervised driving and a Parental Authorization Affidavit that must be signed by a parent or legal guardian.
You should try to arrive at least 15 minutes early for your drivers test appointment. Check in with a DOL representative so your examiner is aware that you made it for your appointment. The examiner will also run a quick check of all your documents and inspect the vehicle.
You are not allowed to have any passengers in the vehicle during the road test, it will only be you and the examiner. Exceptions can be made only for a service animal or an interpreter for the deaf or hard of hearing. Foreign language interpreters are not allows in the test vehicle. If you bring pets to the testing site, make sure there is someone to care for them while you are taking the driving exam.
The examiner will not try to trick you into doing something wrong or breaking the law, so you do not need to stress about that. In fact, taking a driving test is just like going for a quick ride and you should not treat it differently. Make sure you practice driving with different people so when the examiner gets into the car, it does not create an uncomfortable situation for you.
The Washington drivers test was designed to assess your ability to control the vehicle and to observe all driving rules at the same time. You will be scored on the following subjects while taking the test:
- Starting your vehicle
- Leaving the curb. Make sure you use your signals and check for traffic while doing that.
- Controlling the vehicle. You have to be able to show that you are able to match your speed to that of the surrounding traffic and that you can accelerate and break smoothly.
- Driving in traffic. The examiner will check whether you are able to select the proper lane, keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and communicate with other drivers by signaling while changing lanes.
- Obeying road signs and traffic signals. This one is obvious - make sure not to break any traffic laws while taking the driving test.
- Driving through intersections. You need to yield the right of way when appropriate and check for cross-traffic and pedestrians.
- Backing up. Look over your right shoulder while you do that and make sure the car is moving in a straight line.
- Parking. You will be asked to park uphill or downhill. Remember to turn your wheel the right way when you do this.
Make sure that things that you are doing are apparent and clear to the examiner. This means that dropping a quick glance is in your side-view mirror when leaving the curb is not enough. Turn your head, take your time, scan for any possible danger. The examiner needs to make sure that you are being cautious.
For more tips on what you will be tested on while taking the Washington driver's test, visit the DOL website, they even posted some videos of what the driving test consist of, so that should be of great help.
If you do not pass the driving test the first time, you will have to wait a certain amount of time before you can retake the exam. The waiting times are as following:
- 1st time - need to wait at least seven days
- 2nd time - depending on your drivers test results, you will have to wait 1-3 weeks
- 3rd time - have to wait at least three months
When you pass the drivers test, you are issued with a temporary license that is valid for 45 days. Your real Washington drivers license will be mailed to you within 7-10 days. If you do not receive a license within couple of weeks, visit the DOL office one more time to check upon the progress of your application.
If you receive your license before you are 18 years of age, your license is marked as intermediate and you have to observe all Washington intermediate license restrictions. These restrictions are lifted from your license once you turn 18.
There is only one secret to passing the Washington drivers test and that is practice. Try to practice as much as possible before you visit the DOL, practice with different drivers, during daylight hours and nighttime, practice under different weather conditions. Good luck on your road test!