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Washington Learners Permit Restrictions - WA Driving Permit Rules

Washington Learners Permit Restrictions - WA Driving Permit Rules

Washington permit restrictions are a large part of the state graduated license law and depend on the age of the learners permit applicant. Adult drivers permit holders have only one requirement that needs to be observed and that is no driving alone, while teenage drivers have to observe a large number of other permit restrictions, including cell phone, passenger and curfew limitations. These permit rules were set to discourage drivers from committing the most common mistakes and help them to avoid being involved in a traffic accident.

Who Needs Learners Permit Restrictions

If you just got your Washington learners permit, you are probably wondering why you need to observe these restrictions that may seem kind of pointless to you. The motive behind forcing these restrictions onto you is the fact that as a new driver, you don't have any driving experience whatsoever. And this makes you dangerous, not only to yourself, but to others around you. You have neither the knowledge to prevent a potentially dangerous situation, nor the skills to deal with it, which makes you a likely cause of a traffic accident, in which you may hurt yourself, another driver or a pedestrian.

This is even more true when it comes to teenage drivers. Statistics show us that teenage drivers are much more likely to have a traffic accident than drivers of any other age group. Teenage drivers are frequently unable to predict the consequences of their actions, which may lead to a disaster. In order to address this, the state has developed a graduated drivers license system that governs the licensing procedure for teenagers and matches the most common mistakes made by young drivers by additional permit restrictions.

Washington Graduated Driver License

Before you dive into this, we want to remind you that the graduated drivers license laws and restrictions apply only to drivers who are under 18 years of age. If you are 18 or older, you can skip this section.

Washington graduated drivers license system divides the licensing procedure into 3 key steps: learners permit, intermediate license and finally - full drivers license. In order to become eligible for a learners permit, the applicant must pass a Washington permit test and a vision exam at the Department of Licensing. Once these requirements are met, the applicant is granted a Washington instruction permit and can start driving while being supervised by another licensed driver. The permit must be held for at least 6 months and the student must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving and a Washington drivers education program. Once all driving permit requirements are met, the permit holder takes a drivers test and obtains an intermediate drivers license. An intermediate license allows unsupervised driving, but still has numerous license restrictions. An intermediate license is automatically upgraded to a full license and all intermediate license restrictions are removed once the licensee reaches the age of 18.

If you want to find out more about the graduated license laws, please check out the official Washington driver handbook or the DOL website, it should have the most up to date information.

Washington Permit Restrictions - Over 18

If you are 18 years of age or older, there is only one restriction that you need to observe at all times while driving:

  • Supervised driving only. You must have another licensed driver seated next to you while driving. The supervising driver must have at least 5 years of driving experience and hold a current Washington driver's license. The supervising driver must be prepared to take control of the vehicle at any time.

Although there are not that many permit restrictions that you will need to observe, you still need to take the learners permit test before you can get your permit. If you want to see what the test is like, take a Washington practice permit test which covers the same materials as the real permit test.

Washington Permit Restrictions - Under 18

While driving on your instruction permit, you have to observe the same restrictions as anyone who is over 18 years of age and that is driving under the supervision of another licensed driver with at least 5 years of driving experience. Unlike older drivers, you must complete a drivers education class and at least 50 hours of supervised driving before you can take a road test and apply for an intermediate drivers license.

Washington Intermediate Drivers License Restrictions

If you hold an intermediate drivers license, you can drive without a supervising driver, however you must still observe the intermediate license restrictions:

  • Curfew. You cannot drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. alone. If you need to be on the road at this time, make sure to have a parent, legal guardian or another licensed driver who is at least 25 years of age supervise you. Just like with a permit, the supervising driver must be seated next to you and be ready to take control of the vehicle.
  • Passenger restrictions. For the first six months following the issuance of the license, no passengers under the age of 20 are allowed in the vehicle. Exceptions are made for the immediate family members. After the first 6 months, no more than 3 passengers under the age of 20 are allowed in the vehicle.
  • Seat belts. Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt.
  • Cell phones. You cannot operate any electronic devices while driving.

You will obtain a full Washington drivers license once you reach the age of 18. At this point, all restrictions are lifted from your license. There are no additional steps you need to take in order for this to happen, your license is upgraded automatically.