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Get Your License, Get Your Freedom

For most teenagers, driving means freedom. It means having control over where you go and when you arrive and leave. It means no more relying on friends for rides, no more panting and sweating on a bicycle, and no more being stuck at home while everyone else is out having fun. And being able to drive isn't just a practical matter; it's also a rite of passage. Driving is one of the things that signifies a child is becoming an adult. No wonder driving is such a universally desired ability among eligible teenagers.

Learning how to drive, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. Once you know how to operate a vehicle, you then have to prove it to the government, a process which involves multiple steps. In addition, how to get a driver's license varies by state, but there are some consistencies.

Driver's Ed

Driver's education courses are one of the most important components of the licensing process, as they are the part that actually teaches teenagers how to drive safely and obey traffic laws. Many driver's education programs are classroom based, but an increasing number are online. Even if you take an online driver's ed course, you will still be required to complete in-person driving practice.

Driving Practice

Most students are required to complete driving practice with a professional driving instructor. As part of this practice, students will be required to drive (often on a closed course) in order to practice applying the skills they learned in their driver's education course. This is just as important as driver's ed, as driving theory means very little without practice.

DMV Tests

If you have paid close attention in your driver's education courses and driving practice, the DMV testing shouldn't be tremendously difficult. The written test should be especially straightforward if you review the content before you take it. The road test, however, is usually a bit more difficult, as it involves driving on public roads with other cars on them, something that most teenagers may not have much prior experience with.

Learner's Permit

The majority of states prohibit teenagers from getting a driver's license without first possessing a learner's permit or provisional license. Learner's permits allow a teenager to drive a car, but only under certain conditions. Again, restrictions vary by state, but almost always include a prohibition on other minors in the car and almost always require a passenger with a full license to be in the vehicle.


Most states require teenagers to have a permit for a certain number of months (six or seven is standard) and reach a certain age (usually 16 years old) before becoming eligible to obtain a full license. This pre-license period is usually accompanied by a curfew as well; in many states, teenagers with permits may be prohibited from driving after 10 pm or midnight.


Once you have possessed your learner's permit for the required number of months and have reached the state-mandated minimum age, all you need to do is take the DMV licensing exam. The licensing exam is usually similar to the permit exam in that it includes both written and practical sections, but the licensing exam is more comprehensive and less forgiving, especially in the road test.

Once you have completed each of these steps, your local DMV will grant you your driver's license. Many full licenses do not come with any restrictions, but your state may have a program called graduated licensing, which imposes limitations for licensed drivers who are still minors. Once you turn 18, however, your license shouldn't have any restrictions on it no matter your state.

The process for obtaining a full driver's license may seem long and involved, but that's only so that the roads are safer for drivers and passengers alike. Follow the proper steps, and pay attention in your studies, and you'll have your license before you know it.

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