Steps to getting your first license: Teens 16-17 years old

Things to know

To get your driver license, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old at the time we issue your license.
  • Be a Washington (WA) resident (your license must show your residence address).
  • Successfully complete an approved driver training course.
    • Online and parent taught traffic safety education are not approved courses in WA. If your teen completes a course in another state it must meet WA minimum requirements.
  • Have your WA instruction permit for at least 6 months.
    • This time can include your out-of-state or out-of-country instruction permit or license.
  • Not have been convicted of any:
    • Traffic violations within 6 months before applying for the license.
    • Alcohol or drug offense while holding an instruction permit.

How to get your license

  1. Get an instruction permit and have it for at least 6 months.
  2. Complete at least 40 hours of daylight and 10 hours of night driving with someone who's been licensed for 5 years or more.
  3. Pass the driving test at any Driver training and testing location.
  4. Decide if you'd like to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. Visit LifeCenter Northwest for more information.
  5. Get your license:
    • Online:
      • Have a WA photo instruction permit.
      • Your parent or guardian must be with you so they can give permission online for you to get your license.
      • Pay the licensing fee.
      • Print the receipt. It's your temporary license. Since it doesn't include your photo, you can't use it as ID.
      • Your permanent license will have the same photo as your instruction permit or WA ID card. We'll mail it to the address we have on file.
    • or
    • At a driver licensing office location. Be prepared to wait in line. See Tips for visiting an office: Driver licensing offices. You'll need to:
      • Show you've passed a traffic safety course with a course completion (this is different from the score sheet).
        • Driver licensing offices are unable to enter scores or course completions.
        • The school may take up to 24 hours to enter your information into the system.
        • If your driver training school didn't submit an electronic course completion for you, bring the signed certificate they gave you.
        • If you don't have your certificate and the school has closed, email us at tse@dol.wa.gov or call 360.664.6692.
      • Bring a parent with you to the licensing office to sign the parental authorization form.
        • If you can't bring a parent, have them fill out the Parental Authorization Affidavit form and have it notarized. You must bring the notarized form with you to the office.
      • Show proof of identity.
      • Provide your Social Security number, or sign a declaration if you don't have one.
      • Pass a vision screening.
      • Have your photo taken.
      • Pay the fees.

Teens 16–17 years old with a valid out of state driver license

Apply for your WA license at an office. You'll need to:

  • Bring your Traffic Safety Education certificate to show you've passed the course.
    • If you don't have your certificate and the school has closed, email us at tse@dol.wa.gov or call 360.664.6692.
  • Bring a parent with you to the licensing office to sign the parental authorization form.
    • If you can't bring a parent, have them fill out the Parental Authorization Affidavit form and have it notarized. You must bring the notarized form with you to the office.
  • Show proof of identity.
  • Provide your Social Security number, or sign a declaration if you don't have one.
  • Pass a vision screening.
  • Have your photo taken.
  • Pay the fees.

When you'll get your license

  • You'll get your temporary license:
    • Before you leave our office.
    • or
    • When you print your receipt after getting your license online.
  • We'll mail your permanent license within 7-10 days. If you haven't receive it after 30 days, please go to an office.

Intermediate license laws for teen drivers

If you're under 18, you'll be issued an intermediate driver license and must follow these laws:

  • Driving with Passengers
    • First 6 months: No passengers under 20 years old, except for immediate family members (spouse, child, stepchild, or siblings, both by birth and marriage).
    • Next 6 months: No more than 3 passengers under 20 years old who aren't members of your immediate family.
  • Nighttime driving
    The first 12 months, you can't drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you're with a licensed driver who's 25 years or older. The only exceptions are driving for agricultural purposes and transporting farm products or supplies under the direction of a farmer as described in RCW 46.20.070.
  • No cell phones
    You can't use wireless devices while driving, even with a hands-free device. This includes talking on cell phones and sending or receiving text messages. You may only use a wireless device to report an emergency.

Penalties for violations and accidents

  • First violation: Passenger and nighttime restrictions will apply until you're 18. We'll send a warning letter to you and your parent/guardian for the following:
    • Get a ticket for violating the restrictions.
    • Get a ticket for violating a rule of the road.
    • Are involved in an accident where:
      • You get a ticket or are determined to have caused the accident.
      • No one involved in the accident receives a ticket.
      • The cause of the accident can't be determined.
      • Only your car was involved in the accident.
  • 2nd violation: License suspended for 6 months (or until you're 18, whichever comes first). We'll notify you and your parent/guardian before we take any suspension action.
  • 3rd violation: License suspended until you're 18. We'll notify you and your parent/guardian before we take any suspension action.

Note: We don't determine who caused an accident. If you'd like a copy of your collision report, contact the Washington State Patrol records division at 360.570.2355.

Warning letters and penalties until age 18

Once you've driven safely for 1 year the passenger and nighttime driving restrictions expire, but the other violations will apply until you're 18.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to get a new license when I turn 18?
No, the intermediate driver license automatically becomes a regular driver license.

How do police enforce the intermediate license laws?
They enforce them as a "secondary action." This means that if a teen driver is stopped for a traffic offense, the officer can cite the driver for any violations of intermediate license restrictions.

If I have a drug or alcohol-related offense or Minor in Possession (MIP), can I get my intermediate license?
No, you'll have to wait until you're 18 if you're convicted of any of the following while you have an instruction permit:

If I have a license from another state, do the intermediate license laws apply to me?
Yes. A teen with a valid out-of-state license must get an intermediate WA license and meet all the same requirements.

Related information

Questions? Need help?

Email us: exams@dol.wa.gov

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