Obtaining a Wisconsin learners permit is a great achievement and most of the applicants are very excited once they finally get that piece of paper into their hands. However exciting this experience is, you must not let yourself forget that driving is a privilege and that there are numerous Wisconsin permit restrictions for you to observe. The learners permit restrictions that are placed onto all permit holders were designed to keep you safe until you get some driving experience and you must observe them for the sake of your safety and safety of other drivers that surround you on the road. If you choose not to abide to these permit requirements and break the restrictions, your driving privilege may be limited or revoked.
If you are one of the first time Wisconsin drivers license applicants, to you all these measures may seem very inconvenient and unnecessary. However, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation does not deem them to be so and they are right in enforcing these restrictions. Let's look at the most common causes of traffic accidents and how the Wisconsin permit restrictions work on correcting them.
Lack of driving experience is probably a number one cause of accidents for new drivers. If you just got a drivers license, chances are that you have less than 50 hours of driving behind your belt and this is simply not enough for dealing with many of the potentially dangerous situations on the road. Experienced drivers can be compared to chess players - they think a few steps ahead, which helps them recognize possible trouble before the situation escalates. This allows them to take steps to avoid a potentially dangerous situation and this is what is called defensive driving. Young drivers, on the other hand, don't have this skill yet and so they recognize a dangerous situation when they are already knee deep in it and it is too late to avoid it. Combined with poor control of the vehicle, this may lead to a disaster.
However, driving experience by itself is not as dangerous as lack of driving experience and unwillingness or inability to recognize it. If you look at the crash rates for new drivers who are over the age of 20, they are significantly lower than crash rates for teen drivers. The reason for this is the fact that most of the older drivers are able to recognize their limitations when it comes to driving and take measures that would allow to compensate for the inexperience. In most cases, it means driving at lower speed, avoiding places with contested traffic. In others - limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle so you don't take responsibility for the lives of other people.
Teenagers frequently overestimate their driving ability and this is where the Wisconsin graduated drivers license program comes in. The graduated drivers license law specifies the learners permit and drivers license restrictions that are applicable only to drivers who are under 18 years of age. The graduated license program also mandates that all teenage learners permit applicants complete a Wisconsin drivers education class. Drivers ed classes consist of both classroom and behind the wheel instruction, they teach young drivers the rules of the road and safe driving practices, at the same time allowing them to apply the knowledge they got in a classroom on an actual road, behind the wheel, while being monitored by a professional driving instructor.
The same law also mandates that teens are to go through multiple intermediate steps before they can achieve a full drivers license, each steps featuring its own restrictions and requirements. The official Wisconsin drivers manual contains detailed information about the law and graduated license restrictions.
Wisconsin Instruction Permit Restrictions
You have to remember that even before you get a permit, you will be required to take a number of exams, such as a vision test and a Wisconsin instructional permit test. The tests were designed to ensure that you are well enough and you know the state driving rules before you are allowed to get behind the wheel. If you want to see what kind of questions are on the permit knowledge exam, you may take a free Wisconsin practice permit test.
Once you pass all of the exams and get your learners permit, the following permit restrictions will apply:
- No driving alone. This is an absolute must and you cannot disregard this restriction - under no circumstances you are allowed to drive alone. You must have a supervising driver seated next to you at all times while you are driving. The following people qualify to be a supervising driver: a driving instructor who is at least 19 years of age, your parent, legal guardian or a spouse or a drivers who is at least 21 years of age. If you are currently under 18 years of age, the supervising driver must be designated by your parents in writing.
- Passenger restrictions. You are only allowed to have one passenger in the vehicle while you are preparing for your Wisconsin drivers test. The passenger must be at least 25 years of age, hold a valid drivers license and have at least 2 years of driving experience. The passenger must be seated at the rear seat of the vehicle.
You have to observe these permit restrictions for at least 6 months until you pass a drivers test and get your probationary license. During this period, you must also finish your drivers education class and complete at least 30 hours of supervised driving with a supervising driver.
Probationary License Restrictions
Once you pass your drivers test, you are issued with a probationary drivers license. Although this type of license allows you to drive without a supervising driver, it still has a number of restrictions that you need to observe.
- Curfew. No driving between midnight and 5 a.m.. Exceptions can be made when you are driving between home, school and work or when you have a supervising driver seated next to you. The requirements for the supervising driver are the same as for the Wisconsin learners permit holders.
- Passenger restrictions. Only one passenger who is not a member of your immediate family can be present in the vehicle.
These restrictions must be observed for six months, at which point your license is upgraded to a full unrestricted drivers license. If you break these probationary license restrictions, the holding period will be extended for another six months.