drivers license

How to Get a Massachusetts Driver’s License: The Ultimate Guide

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Apr 30, 2021

Getting a Massachusetts driver’s license involves a number of steps. If you’ve never held a license before, you’ll have to start out by getting a learner’s permit, then a junior license, and then finally an unrestricted license. If you’re over 18, the process is a bit different.

We’ll go through all you need to know in this guide.

Learner’s Permit

The first step is getting a learner’s permit, which is valid for two years. Before you can start the application for your permit, you must be at least age 16; and if you’re under 18 you must have parental consent. 

To receive your learner’s permit, you first need to pass the written exam. There are 25 questions and you need to answer at least 17 correctly to pass. The exam is currently offered online, but you should know that about 50% fail their test nation-wide, so you need to come prepared.

Once you have your permit, you may drive under the supervision of a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old and has had their license for at least one year. You need to log at least 40 hours of supervised driving before you may sit the road test.

Learner’s Permit Restrictions

  • If under 18, you may only drive between midnight and 5 am if you have a parent or legal guardian as the supervising driver – rather than any licensed adult.
  • You need to bring your learner’s permit with you when driving.
  • You are not allowed to drive in all U.S. states, only drive in the ones that allow it.

If you would like to know more about this part of the licensing process, we recommend that you read our in-depth Massachusetts learner’s permit guide.

Take a Driver’s Education Program (Under 18)

If you want to get your Massachusetts driver’s license and you’re under 18, you are required to complete an approved driver’s education program. It consists of:

  • 30 hours of classroom instruction, during which you’ll learn all about Massachusetts motor vehicle law and how to drive safely and properly.
  • 12 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, where you’ll drive with an instructor in a training vehicle.
  • 6 hours of behind-the-wheel observation, where you’ll observe another student’s behind-the-wheel instruction session.

Public high schools offer approved driver’s ed programs, but you can complete driver’s ed with other driving schools as well. Make sure that the program you’re taking is approved by the Massachusetts RMV.

Junior Operator License (Ages 16½ to 18)

If you’re between the ages of 16½ and 18, you are able to get your junior operator license if you’ve completed the requirements below:

  • You must have finished an approved driver’s ed program.
  • If your parent or guardian has not completed driver’s ed within five years, they must participate in at least two hours of driver’s education instruction.
  • You’ll need to have completed and logged 40 hours of supervised driving with a licensed adult. Your driving log must be certified by a parent or guardian.
    • If you’ve completed a driver skills development program, you will only need 30 hours of supervised driving. 
  • You need to have held your learner’s permit for at least six months before the road test.
  • You cannot have any violations on your driving record for six months.

How to Get a Junior Operator License in Massachusetts

When you’re ready to take your road test and get your license, you’ll have to schedule an appointment online or by phone. You will have to provide your social security number, your permit number, your name, and your date of birth. There will also be a road testing fee.

When you go to the MA RMV to take your road test, remember to bring your permit and a road test application, which will need to be completed by a parent or guardian if you are under age 18. You will also need a qualified adult to come with you to the RMV. This adult must be at least 21 years old, have a valid license, and have had at least a year of driving experience.

You’ll take the road test in a state vehicle with a driving instructor. No one else is allowed in the car during the exam. Should you fail, you will have to wait 14 days to retake it.

Once you pass the exam and pay the license and fees, you’ll get your junior operator license and you can start driving alone. 

Junior Operator License Restrictions

There are some restrictions that come along with the junior operator license. Make sure that you carefully follow all these rules.

  • For the first six months, you are not allowed to drive with any other minors who are not family members unless you have a licensed adult age 21 or over in the car.
  • You may not drive between 12:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless you have a licensed adult age 21 or over in the car.

Unrestricted Massachusetts Driver’s License

Your junior operator’s license will automatically become a full Massachusetts driver’s license when you turn 18, and all restrictions will be lifted.

New Drivers Over 18

If you are older than 18 and have never held a driver’s license before, you must still apply for a permit. You’ll need to complete an application, bringing necessary identification documentation, and proof of state residency. You will also need to pass a knowledge exam and vision test.

However, you do not need to take a driver’s ed class or practice driving with a permit; you may simply immediately apply for an unrestricted license after passing the road test.

That’s It!

That’s everything you need to know about getting your driver’s license in Massachusetts. We hope this guide has helped you out and that you now feel comfortable with the steps moving forward. If you need any help studying for your upcoming knowledge or driving exams, then Zutobi is the perfect study resource with a summarized handbook, Massachusetts permit practice tests, and a gamified experience. 

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