Washington, D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles

For prospective drivers who are under 21, Washington, D.C. uses the GRAD program (Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers). In order to graduate to a full operator's license, new drivers must successfully pass through two stages. There are tests at each stage, and a good driving record is required in order to pass to the next stage. The following article will provide more details about each stage, as well as some of the traps into which drivers can fall. These traps can slow progress, or in some cases, stop the progress toward receiving full driving privileges.

The GRAD program begins with the supervised learning stage. At age 16, prospective drivers can apply for a learner's permit at most DMV locations. In order to apply, you will need:

  1. Parental consent-if a parent cannot accompany you to the DMV, then you can print out the parental consent form and have it notarized. Most banks have at least one notary in the branch at any given time, and postal offices are another potential location.
  2. To pass the knowledge test-Washington, D.C. is pretty strict about failed attempts on the knowledge test. If you fail three times, you will be ineligible to take the test again for a year after your first attempt.
  3. Pass the vision test-if you fail the vision test, you may have some restrictions placed on your license, but this does not usually cause a problem.
  4. Bring the appropriate documentation-birth certificate, social security card, and proof of residence in Washington, D.C. (bring a few recent utility bills).

Once the learner's permit is issued, you will be able to drive with anyone who is 21 or older and licensed to drive. This person will be your supervisor while you drive. The supervisor must be in the front passenger seat, sitting next to the driver and alert. Your potential driving hours are also restricted at night. See the DMV website about GRAD Permissible Driving Hours for more details.

Once you can drive under supervision, you are qualified to begin your behind-the-wheel training requirement. In order to become eligible for the provisional license, you will need to log 40 hours of driving experience. Six months must pass between the time your permit was issued and the time you apply for a provisional license without violations going against your record.

At the DMV, you will take a Road Skills Test and submit a Certification of Eligibility for Provisional License Form. If you pass, you will be able to drive without supervision; however, you will have some restrictions on your passenger limit and driving hours. Specifically, you will be allowed to transport only one passenger at a time. See the GRAD Permissible Driving Hours link, provided above, for more details concerning acceptable driving hours.

Once you have your provisional license, you must complete an additional 10 hours of night driving with a supervisor. Use the Certification of Eligibility For Full License With Conditions Form to fill out the times and dates of your training sessions. If a student driver with a provisional license commits any violation, he or she must wait at least another year before being issued a Full License without restrictions. Without violations, Full Licenses become available six months after the issuance of the provisional license.

Six months after you receive the provisional license, you become eligible for the Full License with Conditions. This stage allows two passengers in the vehicle and less restrictions on driving hours. Once you turn 18, all restrictions are removed, and the license becomes a Full Driver's License.

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Last Updated: 12/14/2017


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