Tennessee Driver Licensing Law

Obtaining a Tennessee Learner Permit

Learner Permits are available to Tennessee 15-year-olds who have passed vision and Class D knowledge exams. When applying, if under 18, a parent or legal guardian will need to be present and will need to sign a minor/teenage affidavit and financial responsibility form. The applicant will also need to provide proof that he or she is enrolled in a Tennessee school. The letter must be signed by a principal or guidance counselor. Other documentation required:

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship, lawful permanent resident status, or proof of authorized stay in the United States
  • Primary and secondary proof of identity
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency dated within the previous four months
  • A Social Security card or affidavit if no number has been issued

Learner Permit holders are prohibited from driving between 10PM and 6 AM and must have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the front seat of the vehicle with them. The Learner Permit must be held for a minimum of 180 days, and during that time the driver must have 50 hours of behind-the-wheel driving experience. Ten of those hours must be at night.

Obtaining an Intermediate Driver License

Once a 16-year-old driver has held a valid Learner Permit for six months and fulfilled all the prior requirements, they will be eligible to take a road skills test and, if they pass, acquire an Intermediate Driver License. A 50-Hour Certification form must be signed by the supervising driver to confirm the driving practice required for the license.

Intermediate Licenses carry two restrictions:

  • Licensees can only have one other passenger in the vehicle with them unless one or more of them is a licensed adult age 21 or over, or the passengers are immediate family members and the driver has a letter from a parent authorizing passengers to be in the car for the sole purpose of going to and from school.
  • Licensees are prohibited from driving between 11PM and 6 AM unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or designated licensed adult, or traveling between school or work and home, or if driving to or from hunting or fishing between 4 AM and 6 AM.

Teens must hold their Intermediate Restricted Driver License for one year. After one year, they can apply for an Intermediate Unrestricted License. There is a $2 application fee. Teens need to apply in person at any of the Driver Service Center Locations. The word "Intermediate" will still be on the license, but the restrictions will be lifted.

However, if a teen driver has received six or more points (equivalent of two minor traffic citations) on their intermediate restricted license; contributes to a traffic crash; or is convicted of a second seat belt violation, they will have to wait an additional 90 days to apply for an intermediate unrestricted license. Also, if the teen driver gets a second moving violation while holding the Intermediate Restricted Driver License, he or she will need to complete an approved Driver Education class before being allowed to get an Intermediate Unrestricted Driver License.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

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