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Steps to getting your first license: Driver training programs

Information for people who want to take a driver training program.


Minimum age

Parents may enroll their teen in Traffic Safety Education (TSE) as soon as they turn 15.

Instruction permit

Students must have an instruction permit to practice driving.

Age requirements for an instruction permit
Student's age Requirements for an instruction permit
Under 15½
  • Certificate of enrollment from the driver training school or instructor.
  • Parent's signature granting permission for the instruction permit.
  • Pass the driver's knowledge test.
  • Parent's signature granting permission for the instruction permit.
18 and older Pass the driver's knowledge test.

Complete curriculum

Driver training programs must include all of the following:

  • A total of 30 hours of classroom instruction, with a maximum of 2 hours per day.
  • A minimum of 6 hours of practice driving, with a maximum of 1 hour per day.
  • A minimum of 1 hour of behind-the-wheel observation.

The following courses are not approved in Washington State:

  • Self-paced online instruction
  • Parent-taught traffic safety

Driving practice with parents

Parents of teen drivers must supervise a total of 50 hours of out-of-class practice time, including 10 hours of nighttime driving.

How to choose a good driver training program

  • Make sure the instructors and the schools are licensed. Schools are required to display certificates for each instructor, and each instructor must carry a wallet certificate.
  • Compare the school's curriculum with the state curriculum requirements.
  • Look for instructor-led classroom instruction that makes appropriate use of videos and visual aids.
  • Make sure the school has enough instructors to meet the students' needs and answer their questions in the classroom.
  • Ask how the school will keep records of your student's attendance and classroom and behind-the-wheel lessons. Request a copy so you can confirm the training.

If you have questions or concerns about a particular driving school, please contact our Driver Training School Program at tse@dol.wa.gov.

Traffic Safety Education at high schools

High school TSE programs are managed locally through the school districts, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction oversees and certifies the instructors and curriculum for these programs. To get more information, contact your local high school.

How to file a complaint

If you have a complaint against a driver training school or instructor, please submit a Driver Training Schools Program Complaint (English, Español).

  • Be sure to include a detailed explanation of your complaint and copies of any related documents.
  • When we receive your complaint, we'll review the information and determine whether we should take action against the driving school or instructor. We'll notify you of the outcome.

Driver Training School Program

The Driver Training Program oversees driver training schools and instructors who provide Traffic Safety Education in Washington to ensure they deliver the necessary classroom and behind-the-wheel experiences for proper student training. The program:

  • Determines the driver training course curriculum.
  • Screens school and instructor qualifications and backgrounds.
  • Investigates complaints.
  • Initiates disciplinary actions including license suspension, revocation, cancellation, and denial.

Contact information

Driver Training School Program
PO Box 9027
Olympia, WA 98507-9027

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