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Washington Learners Permit

Washington Learners Permit

Obtaining a Washington learners permit is the first step of the state licensing procedure. The drivers permit will allow you to gain some driving experience and hone the driving skills in a relatively safe and controlled environment.


The Washington learners permit is part of the graduated drivers license system, the system that aims at reducing the crash-rates among teenage drivers. The Washington GDL system includes such things as compulsory drivers education classes and permit restrictions and is applicable for licensees who are under 18 years of age.

Applying for Learners Permit

The minimum age at which you can apply for the Washington learners permit is 15, provided you are enrolled in a certified drivers education program. The Department of Licensing (which is the Washington's version of the DMV) will require you to take the permit exam which will test your knowledge of the driving rules. Although the test is relatively easy, the majority of the first-time applicants fail the test the first time they take it.

If you want to pass the exam the first time you take it, make sure you are well prepared before you visit the DOL office. If you are participating in a drivers ed program, you probably won't need any extra study materials as the course will prepare you for the exam. Those students who are not enrolled in a drivers education program can obtain a free copy of the Washington drivers manual and use it to learn the rules. The book is a comprehensive guide to the Washington driving law and should be sufficient for passing the test.

Those who doubt their knowledge of the driving rules can use the Washington practice permit tests. The tests are useless as a standalone source of info, but should be of good help for those who already went through the web.

When you visit the DOL office for your learners permit application, be prepared to do the following:

  • provide proof of ID
  • provide proof of residency
  • pay the application fee
  • provide a parental authorization affidavit (if you are under 18)
  • proof of enrollment in a drivers education course, if applicable
  • take a vision test
  • take the permit exam

When you successfully pass the exam, you will be issued with the Washington learners permit.

Learners Permit Restrictions

The learners permit was designed to give you the chance to practice your driving before taking the road test and it comes with a number of restrictions. The main limitation of the drivers permit is that it allows for supervised driving only, you must have another licensed driver accompanying you at all times when you are behind the wheel.

Upgrading to Drivers License

If you are under 18 years of age, you will need to hold your permit for at least 6 months before you can take the driving exam for your license. Your drivers permit is valid for 12 months and you are expected to complete a drivers education class and take the road skills exam during this time. If you need to renew your permit, you can do so at your nearest DOL office.

Once you take the road exam, you will be issued with the Washington drivers license.