If you currently hold a license issued by a different state and you don't plan on residing in Wisconsin, you can just keep driving with your out-of-state license. If you have never held a license issued by another state and you want to drive on Wisconsin roads, you will need to apply for the official Wisconsin drivers license.
Drivers License Types
There are many different types of the drivers license that can be issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Each license class allows for the operation of a certain type of vehicles. At the moment, the following types of drivers licenses are offered by the state:
- Class D. Regular drivers license. Allows you to operate most of the common vehicles.
- Motorcycle license.
- Commercial driver licenses, CDLs.
If you are the first time applicant, you will start by applying for a regular class D driver license. The regular driver's license is sufficient for most of us, however, you can upgrade to another license type once you've gained some driving experience.
Graduated Drivers License
The Wisconsin graduated drivers license program applies to all drivers who are under 18 years of age. The program regulates the licensing procedure and uses a number of restrictions to keep teen drivers out of trouble. The graduated driver license program in Wisconsin also mandates that every teenage license applicant is to complete a state-approved driver's education program before obtaining a permit or a license.
Applying for Drivers Permit
You can start the driver license application procedure as early as 15, although you won't be able to get a permit until you are at least 15 and ½. You can use these six months to take a driver's education class and study for the permit exam that you have to take before you can be issued with a permit.
Every Wisconsin driver's permit applicant, no matter how old, has to take a Wisconsin permit test that covers the driving law and road signs. If you are taking a drivers education class, chances are that your instructor is already working on preparing you for the exam. Those who chose not go through drivers ed can obtain a free copy of the Wisconsin drivers license book and use it to study for test. Wisconsin practice permit tests also come in handy as you can actually test yourself before you go in for the real exam.
When you show up at one of the DOT offices, be prepared to do the following:
- present proof of citizenship
- present proof of identity
- provide proof of name and DOB
- complete the application for drivers license
- pay the drivers license application fee
- take a vision exam
- take a written knowledge test
Once you pass the exam, you are issued with the Wisconsin drivers permit.
Upgrading to Drivers License
In order to upgrade to the Wisconsin drivers license, you will have to take a road skills test. Applicants who are under 18 years of age must fulfill the graduated driver's license requirements before taking the road test.
The Wisconsin DOT does not provide vehicles for driver license testing, so you will have to arrange a car for the test. Most applicants borrow vehicles from their relatives. If this is not an option for you, you can hire a car from a local driving school.
Once you pass the exam, you will be issued with a temporary license. Your official Wisconsin driver's license should arrive in the mail within 2 weeks. If you do not receive your driver license within this period, you can call the DOT to check upon your license status.