What to do before you get a license
Before getting a driver license, a teen must:
- be at least 16 years of age.
- pass a traffic safety education course.
- have an instruction permit for at least 6 months.
- get at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice (including 10 hours at night) with someone who has been licensed for 5 years or more. For help in supervising driving practice, use the:
- not have any traffic violations within 6 months of applying for the license.
- not have been convicted of any alcohol or drug offense while holding an instruction permit.
How to get a license
Once you have completed these steps, visit a driver licensing office and:
- present a signed certificate showing you have passed an approved traffic safety education course. If you don’t have a copy of your certificate, ask your driver training school for a copy before you apply for your license. If the school has closed, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 902-0110.
- have a parent or guardian grant permission and confirm your driving practice by signing the Parental Authorization Affidavit at the licensing office.
- pass a knowledge test (if you have not previously taken a knowledge test).
- pass a driving test.
- pass a vision screening.
- provide proof you are a Washington State resident. You may use your parent or guardian’s residence address, as long as they live in Washington State and can present a Washington State driver license, ID card, or other documents to prove residence.
- present proof of identity.
- provide your social security number, or sign a declaration if you don’t have one.
Special rules for teen drivers
When teens get a driver license, they must follow some special rules and restrictions. These rules are in place to help protect teen drivers from accidents and help them develop and improve skills in the safest way.
If you are under 18, you will be issued an intermediate driver license and must follow these special rules:
- For the first 6 months, you cannot drive with passengers under the age of 20 unless they are members of your immediate family (such as a spouse, child, stepchild, or siblings, both by birth and marriage).
- For the next 6 months, you cannot carry more than 3 passengers who are under 20 years old who are not members of your immediate family.
- Nighttime driving:
For the first 12 months, you cannot drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you are with a licensed driver age 25 or older. The only exception to this rule is if you drive for agricultural purposes, meaning you transport farm products or supplies under the direction of a farmer (See RCW 46.20.070).
How long these restriction apply
After 1 year of following these rules and driving without a collision or traffic citation, you can drive without limitations to the time of day or passengers you can carry. When you turn 18, these special rules no longer apply and your intermediate driver license automatically becomes a regular license.
Penalties for driving violations and accidents
- First violation: We will extend the passenger and nighttime restrictions until you are age 18 and send a warning letter to you and your parent or guardian if you do any of the following:
- Get a ticket for violating the restrictions.
- Get a ticket for violating a rule of the road.
- Are involved in an accident where:
- You get a ticket or are determined to have caused the accident.
- No one involved in the accident receives a ticket.
- The cause of the accident cannot be determined.
- Only your car was involved in the accident.
- Second violation: Your license will be suspended for 6 months (or until age 18 if that comes first). We will notify you and your parent or guardian before we take any suspension action.
- Third violation: Your license will be suspended until you are age 18. We will notify you and your parent or guardian before we take any suspension action.
Note: The Department of Licensing doesn’t determine who caused an accident. We receive collision data from the Department of Transportation. To request a copy of your collision report, contact the Washington State Patrol records division at (360) 570-2355.
Warning letters and penalties until age 18
Once you have a year of driving safely without a driving violation or accident, the passenger and nighttime driving restrictions expire and won’t be reinstated. However, if you are under 18 you are still subject to receiving the warning letter and license suspension penalties.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to get a new license when I turn 18?
No. When a driver reaches age 18, the intermediate driver license automatically becomes a regular driver license and the special rules no longer apply.
How do police enforce the rules and restrictions on teen drivers?
Police enforce the restrictions of an intermediate driver license as a “secondary action.” This means that if a teen driver is stopped for a traffic offense, the officer can cite the driver for any violations of intermediate license restrictions.
If I have a drug or alcohol-related offense or Minor in Possession (MIP), can I get my intermediate license?
You cannot get a driver license until you are 18 years old if you are convicted of one of the following offenses while you have an instruction permit:
If I have a license from another state, do the special rules of an intermediate license apply to me?
Yes. A teen with a valid out-of-state license must get an intermediate license and meet all the same requirements.