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.
- 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.
- Have your Washington State photo instruction permit for at least 6 months.
- 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
- 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 location. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 an 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.
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