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How to Get a Kentucky Driver’s License in 2021 – All You Need to Know

How to Get a Kentucky Driver’s License in 2021 – All You Need to Know

by Zutobi · Updated Jan 19, 2021

Getting your license the first time can be overwhelming. Here at Zutobi we cut down on the fluff to make everything easier to understand and navigate.

In this article, we’ll go over all you need to know about getting your Kentucky driver’s license.

What is No Pass/No Drive (NP/ND)?

The NP/ND, also known as statute 159.051, is a law passed by the state of Kentucky in 2007. It requires drivers under 18 to:

  • Be enrolled in school or have a diploma or GED.
  • Maintain passing grades in at least four courses
  • Keep unexcused absences to less than 9 days per semester

If a driver under 18 does not meet these educational requirements, they will have their driving privileges revoked. They can not have their driving privileges reinstated until they become compliant OR turn 18, whichever comes first. 

All schools, including homeschool programs, are required to report to the Division of Driver Licensing as soon as you fail to meet these terms and when you are back in compliance. You can find an FAQ about NP/ND here.

The Steps to Getting a Kentucky Driver’s License

There are three steps to getting your license.

  1. Permit
  2. Intermediate license
  3. Unrestricted license

Step 1: Start With a Permit

Every first-time license applicant is required to start with a permit. 

  • If you are 21 or older, you will need to hold your permit for 30 days before you can take the road test for your Unrestricted Driver’s License. 
  • If you are under 21, you must hold your permit for 180 days without a major violation on your record. The 180-day countdown starts over from the date of any major violations.
  • Drivers under 18 are also required to follow additional requirements outlined in the Graduated Driver’s License Program, which we outline further down.

To get your Kentucky permit, you will begin the process at your local Circuit Clerk of Court’s Office.

Applying for Your Kentucky Permit

You will need to present the following documents:

  • Your Social Security Card
  • Birth Certificate
  • If you are Under 18, your parent or legal guardian must sign your application
  • If you are Under 18, you must be in compliance with No Pass/No Drive (see above).

Once you meet these requirements, a Kentucky State Police examiner will give you a vision screening to ensure you see well enough to drive. Then they will give you a written knowledge test. The knowledge test covers everything in your Kentucky Driver Manual, from state driving laws to safe driving practices. There will be 40 questions, and you have to answer 32 correctly to pass.

If you pass, you will be issued a driver’s permit that you must keep on you when you drive. You will need to hold this permit for 180 days without major violations on your record to move to the next stage (30 days if you are over 21). If you fail, you can try again as early as the next available test day for your location.

Pass your exam on the first try! Our summarized Kentucky Driver’s Manual, practice tests, and learning system is the new way to get your license!

Kentucky Permit Restrictions

If you are under 18, you must complete 60 hours of driving training, 10 of which must be at night. They also must be certified by your parents or guardian on this Kentucky Driving Log.

In addition all permit drivers are under the following restrictions:

  • You may not drive between the hours of midnight and 6am, except in an emergency.
  • While you have a permit, you can only drive with someone 21 or older in the front seat with you. 
  • You can drive with no more than one non-family member under the age of 20.
  • Driving with any amount of alcohol or drugs in your system is prohibited.
  • If you accumulate more than 6 points on your record, your driving privileges will be suspended.
  • If you have a serious moving violation on your record, you will have to wait 180 days from the last violation before you can move to the next phase.

Permit Renewals

Your permit is good for three years and may be renewed. If it is not renewed within a year of it’s expirations date, the tests will need to be taken over again.

The Driving Skills Test

The Kentucky driving skills test is a practical skill test that enables you to drive unsupervised. You will take it after you fulfill the requirements of the driver’s permit stage to progress to the next stage.

Once you fulfill the requirements for your permit, contact your Circuit Clerk of Courts Office for available road skills testing days. You will need to plan those days in advance according to their schedule. Some also require an appointment before a test will be administered.

A licensed driver must accompany you to the testing site to drive you and the vehicle to and from the location. You must provide your own vehicle for the test, and it must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Be registered and insured
  • In full working order- no window obstructions, bare tires, check engine lights, etc.
  • If it is a rental, your name must be listed on the agreement and the contract must allow for driving tests.

If your vehicle is deemed unsafe to drive, the test will be canceled until you can provide a safety compliant vehicle.

How Does the Road Test Work?

The Kentucky road test will consist of a 15-20 minute drive, where the examiner will watch you navigate normal driving conditions like parallel parking, merging with traffic, and safe driving tactics at an intersection.

If you fail the driving skills test, you are required by law to wait at least seven days before you can retake it.

Step 2: Kentucky Intermediate Driver’s License

If you are under 18, you will be eligible to progress to this stage once all your criteria in the permit phase are met. Drivers over 18 can skip this stage straight to the unrestricted license phase.

Once you pass the driving skills test, a Kentucky State police Officer will place an intermediate sticker on your permit. 

Intermediate License Restrictions

You must take an approved 4-hour driver safety course before you can progress to a full unrestricted license. You have the option to take the class on-site or online. Increase your chances of passing your course with Zutobi’s practice tests and online study program!

While in this phase, you can drive without supervision. However, the following restrictions are still in place for intermediate license holders:

  • You may not drive between the hours of midnight and 6am, except in an emergency.
  • You can drive with no more than one non-family member under the age of 20.
  • Driving with any amount of alcohol or drugs in your system is prohibited.
  • If you accumulate more than 6 points on your record, your driving privileges will be suspended.
  • If you have a serious moving violation on your record, you will have to wait 180 days from the last violation before you can move to the next phase.

Step 3: Unrestricted Kentucky Driver’s License

If you are under 18 and fulfill all the criteria for your permit and intermediate license phases, you can apply for your unrestricted driver’s license.

If you are over 18, you will take your driving skills test as outlined further up in this article, and you will be issued your unrestricted license.

Unrestricted Driver’s License Restrictions

All drivers will be subject to the point system.

If you’re under 21, your license will be marked to show you are under the “zero tolerance law” for drinking and driving. In other words, you will be penalized for a DUI if you are caught with more than .02% alcohol in your system.

If you are over 21, you will no longer fall under the zero-tolerance law. However, you will still need to follow Kentucky laws about driving under the influence. For people over 21, Kentucky DUI penalties begin when your blood alcohol level is over .08%.

That’s it! These are all the steps to getting a driver’s license in Kentucky. Make sure you pass your tests and learn all the things you need to be a safe driver. Check out our summarized manual and practice tests today to start your journey – join over 250,000 monthly users!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Points System?

The Kentucky Points System is a system designed to track drivers who receive traffic, parking, or driving violations. More serious violations are equated to more points, and these go onto your record. If you acquire too many points, you could be required to take driver safety courses or have your driving privileges suspended/revoked.

A full overview of the point values for each violation can be found here.

What is the Difference Between a Standard License and REAL-ID?

A REAL-ID adds a special symbol to the driver’s license. It allows you to use the driver’s license as valid identification for accessing federal land or proving your identity at international checkpoints like airports. While they are not yet required, they will become mandatory on October 26, 2021. 

A standard license is printed “Not for Federal Identification.” If you plan to fly, enter a government building, or visit a military establishment, you will need to carry extra proof of identification with you on top of your license.

Who Does NOT Need a Kentucky Driver’s License?

You need a driver’s license if you plan on driving on Kentucky public roadways.

You do NOT need a driver’s license if you:

  • Are active military or a military dependent with a valid license from another state
  • Are a non-resident working in Kentucky, if you hold a valid license from another state.
  • Are a full time college student with a valid license from another state
  • Drive farm or road machinery, as long as you use them for the purpose they were designed for. For example, moving a tractor from one field to the other- not using it as a commute vehicle.

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