Washington Department of Licensing

Map of USA with Washington highlighted in light blueWashington does not make it easy for minors to acquire driving privileges. Presently, the system is more complex than it has ever been. This guide will help to sort out some of the major issues and choices you have to make.

Driver education is the first issue. Many students are not aware that taking a traffic safety education course is a requirement for acquiring a license, because they can be issued a permit without driver’s education. It is important to know that you will be forced to take a course, one way or another, because as soon as you register, you can apply for a permit-without taking the knowledge test at the Department of Licensing office. You also qualify for a permit at 15 with education, six months earlier than everyone else. Simply enroll in a class, and up to 10 days before the class is scheduled to start, bring a parent with the appropriate documentation and money to the most convenient Department of Licensing office location. Remember to bring the signed application from the driver education instructor. The instruction permit allows supervised driving, usually with a parent or driving instructor. Whoever the responsible party is, they must remain awake and alert sitting in the passenger seat next to the student driver.

The next step, after the permit is in your possession, is to apply for the Intermediate License. Before you can even think about applying, you will need at least six months with the instruction permit. You will also need to log 50 hours of supervised driving experience, with 10 of the 50 hours to be fulfilled during nighttime conditions. It is also essential that the teen driver not receive any convictions on his or her driving record. Six straight months without any convictions is necessary for driver’s license eligibility. If you reach the day before you apply for your license and are stopped for speeding, then the time period will start over with you needing to wait another six months.

Once you have met all the criteria for the Intermediate Driver’s License, you must once again bring the appropriate documentation with your parent and cash to the Department of Licensing office. Once there, you will take a driving test, the appointment for which you must make ahead of time at the right driver’s license office. Many people fail the driving test on their first try, and the vast majority of these people are unprepared. They underestimate the test, and they do not practice the appropriate procedures. You may want to take a look at What To Expect on the Washington DOL website just to be certain you will be prepared.

Being issued an Intermediate License does not give you unrestricted driving privileges. There are a number of restrictions regarding the number of passengers you may carry in any vehicle you drive, as well as the time of night you are legally able to drive. The DOL will review all of these restrictions with you a number of times, and if the rules are followed, your license will automatically become a regular license as soon as you turn 18.

Minors in Washington will also have a decision to make regarding the type of license they will want to own. The state of Washington offers enhanced licenses, which allow owners to re-enter the United States in lieu of a passport. Though it is roughly $40 more expensive than a regular license, it is much less expensive than a United States passport. Anyone who takes trips north to Canada with any kind of regularity may want to consider applying for an Enhanced Intermediate Driver’s License.