Washington, D.C. Driver Licensing Laws & Regulations

Obtaining a Learner Permit in Washington, D.C.

Sixteen-year-olds are qualified to be in the Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers Program. This allows teens to practice driving before they are given unrestricted access to the roads. This is a three-step process: Learner Permit, Provisional License, and Full Driver License. Every stage of the program requires those who are under 18 to have parental consent.

When applying, teens need to present proof of identity, pass a vision screening and knowledge test, as well as submit the signed parental consent form.

Under the provisions of the Learner Permit, teens are not permitted to drive alone. They must be accompanied by a licensed driver, at least 21 years old, sitting in the front passenger seat at all times. Seat belts are required, and driving in the course of employment is prohibited. Teens are barred from using cell phones while operating a vehicle, even if using a hands-free device.

During the permit state, teens must practice driving for 40 hours before being eligible to move on to a Provisional License.

Obtaining a Provisional License

Once the 40-hour requirement is met and the driver has held a Learner Permit for six months, teens can upgrade to the Provisional License. They will also need to pass a road skills test.

The Provisional License allows teens to drive alone, with hour restrictions. In July and August, holders may drive from 6AM until midnight. Between September and June, teens are permitted to drive between 6AM and 11PM Monday through Thursday, and 6AM until midnight Friday through Sunday. Drivers are also restricted to only driving with one adult, age 21 or older, in the front passenger seat. The only other passengers permitted are siblings, children, and parents.

During this period, the driver must practice at least 10 hours of supervised, nighttime driving.

The parent or legal guardian of drivers under the age of 18 will be notified of any GRAD violations. Any pointable traffic violation will extend the amount of time the driver must wait to apply for a full license. Drivers must be violation free for twelve consecutive months before graduating to the Full License with conditions stage. During the provisional license stage, any GRAD violations will result in a thirty, sixty or ninety day suspension of the provisional license depending upon whether it is the first, second, third or more violation of GRAD program restrictions. These penalties are in addition to any other penalty that may be applicable. After suspension, the driver will be required to pay a reinstatement fee to reinstate the provisional license.

Obtaining a Full Driver License With Conditions

Upon meeting all the above requirements and holding a Provisional License for a minimum of six months, teens may obtain a Full Driver License With Conditions. This permits driving with no more than two passengers under the age of 18 and holds the same hourly restrictions as the Provisional License. The conditions no longer apply once the driver turns 18 years old.

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