Steps to getting your first license: Teens 15–17 years old
To get your driver license, you must:
- Be at least 16 years old.
- Be a Washington resident (your license will show this address).
- Successfully complete an approved driver training course.
- Have your Washington State photo instruction permit for at least 6 months.
- Online and parent taught traffic safety education are not approved courses in Washington State. If your teen completes a course in another state it must meet Washington State minimum requirements.
- Not have been convicted of any traffic violations within 6 months of applying for the license.
- Not have been convicted of any alcohol or drug offense while holding an instruction permit.
How to get your license
- Pass a driver training course.
- Get an instruction permit.
- Complete at least 50 hours of driving practice (including 10 hours at night) with someone who’s been licensed for 5 years or more.
- Resources for the person who supervises the driving practice:
- Pass the driving test at any Driver training and testing location.
- Decide if you would like to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. Visit LifeCenter Northwest for more information.
- Get your license:
- 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 identification.
- Your permanent license will have the same photo as your instruction permit. We’ll mail it to the address we have on file.
- At a driver licensing office. You’ll need to:
- Show you’ve passed a traffic safety course.
- 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 email@example.com 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, if necessary.
- Pay the fees
When you’ll get your license
- You’ll get your temporary license:
- Before you leave the driver licensing office.
- When you print your receipt after getting your license online.
- We’ll mail you your permanent license within 7–10 days. If you don’t receive it within 30 days, please go to a driver licensing office.
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
For the first 12 months, you can’t drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you’re with a licensed driver 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 aren’t permitted to 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.
These restrictions won’t apply after you turn 18 years old.
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.