Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver & Vehicle Services

Map of USA with Pennsylvania highlighted in light blueLearning how to drive in Pennsylvania can be a fun and exciting process with the right preparation. Without preparation, it can be difficult and redundant. In the past, many frustrated Pennsylvania residents have failed the knowledge or road tests; they have been turned away by the DOT representative due to insufficient documentation; they have made it past testing and documentation, only to realize the checkbook is at home. This guide will make sure you know all the pitfalls to avoid ahead of time, and what to do to streamline the process.

The earliest Pennsylvania residents can apply for a learner’s permit is at 16 years of age. The earliest residents can apply for a driver’s license is as soon as they have owned a learner’s permit for six months. In other words, the earlier you obtain your permit, the earlier you will be driving by yourself.

But many people do not know how to prepare so that they can apply for the permit as soon as possible. Passing the knowledge test is required of all new drivers before a learner’s permit is issued. Many people do not know how to prepare so that they are successful the first time around.

Mostly, this is due to an underestimation of the difficulty of the test. Remember that the knowledge test is exactly what it pretends to be: a test of knowledge of laws, procedures, and road signs in Pennsylvania. There are no trick questions, so anyone who has prepared adequately will consider it easy. Anyone who does not have the knowledge will fail (and will probably still tell their friends the test is easy). If you read and study the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual before turning 16, you will be in a great position to apply on your birthday.

But there is still one more thing for you to do, which can require some preparation time. You will need to have a physician fill out Form DL-180, the Medical Qualification Certificate. If your doctor is familiar with you, you may not need to make an appointment specifically for this reason. Alternatively, you could schedule a physical and take the form with you. It is not extremely long.

There are still a few other requirements tending to foil prospective drivers of which you should be aware. The Department of Transportation requires all payments in check or money order. Cash is never accepted. As you will need to have a parent with you at the DOT office, ask them to keep their checkbook handy. The only way you will be able to pay on your own is either by having a checking account or by filling a money order for the specific fees for your application. Keep in mind that test fees are kept separate from application fees, and you should check the DOT website by following the link at the end of this page.

With that in mind, navigate to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver & Vehicle Services page for Obtaining Your Driver’s License. This step-by-step guide details all the documentation necessary for new drivers.

Keep in mind that when you are given your first driver’s license, it will remain a junior driver’s license that comes with some important restrictions until it is upgraded to a senior driver’s license. To accomplish this, you can either wait until you turn 18, or you can take a training course and submit an application to PennDot. More information on this step of the process is available on the DOT’s Process for Graduating from a Junior to a Senior License page.