Tennessee Department of Safety-Driver Services

This article explains all the necessary actions a teen driver must take in order to become fully licensed in the state of Tennessee. For convenience, it is divided into three successive steps, each according to the permit or license the driver is attempting to gain in the licensure process.

The first of these steps is obtaining the Learner's Permit. To be eligible to be issued a Learner's Permit, you need to be at least 15 years old. You will also be required to take and pass the knowledge exam. In order to study for this test, read the Tennessee Department of Safety's Driver's Manual, available from the Driver Services website (download the manual at
http://www.tennessee.gov/safety/driverlicense/license.htm ).

Teens must also bring in documentation to prove their eligibility for a permit or license in the state of Tennessee. First, you must prove enrollment in school. Do this by asking your school for a Certificate of Compulsory School Attendance Form. The form is only 'good' for 30 days after it is signed, so be sure you have already prepared for the knowledge test before you request it. Other documents include: 1) identity, with a birth certificate; 2) secondary identity, with a social security card; and 3) two proofs of residence in Tennessee. (The name of the parent signing the form can be on the proofs. Typically, utility bills are the easiest to bring.)

Additionally, you must have a parent sign the application. In most circumstances, parents will sign in front of a state official at the Department of Safety location where you are completing the application. However, if for some reason this is impossible, then you can have the appropriate form signed by a parent in front of a notary (download the form at http://www.tennessee.gov/safety/forms/minor.pdf). After taking the knowledge and vision tests, with all the documentation outlined above, your new Learner's Permit will be issued, allowing you to drive under supervision.

The Intermediate Driver's License is the next step, and it can be acquired only after you are 16 years old and have owned a Learner's Permit for 180 days. New drivers will be expected to take a road skills test; if they pass, they will be given their new license. To prepare for the road test, be sure to read the section in the Driver's Manual about the skills that will be on the exam. Practice the different actions required by the test under the supervision of a parent, and ask the parent to tell you if you are doing anything improperly.

Be aware that you must schedule a road test prior to going to the Department of Safety office. Navigate to the Tennessee Department of Safety Driver License Appointments Page, read the page, and click on the Make Appointment button at the bottom.

In addition to all of the documentation required for the Learner's Permit, teens must also have the signature of a supervisor on a 50-hour certificate, asserting that the teen has driven under supervision for at least the 50 hours of training required for the license. (Find the form online, at http://www.tennessee.gov/safety/forms/gdl50hrcertificate.pdf .)

Once issued the Intermediate Restricted License, you will be able to drive without supervision under some conditions, which will be explained to you in detail at the Department of Safety.

After one year, if you have neither had an accident nor acquired over six points against your driving record, you will be able to apply for the Intermediate Unrestricted License, which has fewer restrictions. At 18, upon graduation from high school or when you receive your GED, you become eligible for a regular Driver's License.

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Last Updated: 12/14/2017


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