How to Get Your Maryland Driver’s License

How to Get Your Maryland Driver’s License in 2021 – A Complete Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Apr 30, 2021

While some states can be hopelessly complicated, Maryland’s application process is rigorous but straightforward. It’s broken down into three separate parts: the learner’s permit, the provisional driver’s license, and the full driver’s license.

Step 1: Learner’s Permit

Every first-time driver is required to start with a learner’s permit in the state of Maryland, regardless of age. With a permit, you can drive under the supervision of a licensed driver.

To receive your permit, you must pass the vision test, which tests your visual acuity, and the written knowledge test, which quizzes you on traffic rules and signs. The knowledge test consists of 25 questions, and you need 22 correct to pass. Study using our free Maryland practice tests here.

The time you must hold your permit before your can progress to the next stage and the number of practice hours you must complete will depend on your age.

  • If you are younger than 18 years old – you need to hold your permit for at least 9 months without any traffic violations and accumulate 60 hours of practice driving, including at least 10 at night.
  • If you are between 19-24 (or 18 having completed school) – you need to hold your permit for at least 3 months without any traffic violations and accumulate 60 hours of practice driving, including at least 10 at night.
  • If you are 25 or over – you only need to hold your permit for 45 days without any traffic violations. You need to accumulate 14 hours of practice driving, including at least 3 at night.

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

Step 2: Maryland Provisional Driver’s License

Once you have passed the requirements during your instructional period, you can apply for a provisional driver’s license. In order to qualify, you need to:

  1. Successfully complete a Maryland Driver’s Education Program.
  2. Hold your instructional permit for the required time, without traffic violations in the period.
  3. Submit a completed and signed Practice and Skills log
  4. Have a valid and unexpired permit

What Is Tested on the Maryland Driving Skills Test?

The Driving Skills test takes about 20 minutes, and it tests your familiarity with a vehicle, Maryland Laws, and safe driving regulations. You will need to provide your own vehicle and proof of driver’s insurance. You can find a full checklist of the things they will score you on here.

Provisional License Restrictions

You will be able to drive unsupervised in daylight hours with a provisional license, but you will have some restrictions.

  • If you are under 21, you may not drive with ANY measure of alcohol in your system. Older drivers must comply with impaired driving laws.
  • Drivers Under 18 may not drive with non-family members under the age of 18 without a qualified supervising driver. This restriction only lasts for the first 151 days as long as you have no violations on your record.
  • Drivers Under 18  may not drive between midnight and 5 am without a qualified licensed driver at least 21 years of age. The exceptions are if you are driving to work, official school activity, organized volunteer program, or are participating in an athletic event or related training session. Once you turn 18, you may drive at any hour.
  • Drivers Under 18 may not use wireless communication devices while driving. Not even hands-free versions.
  • You and your passengers, regardless of age or relation, MUST wear a safety belt or harness at all times.

You can read our full provisional license guide here.

Step 3: Full Maryland Driver’s Licence

Once you’ve held your provisional license violation-free for 18 consecutive months, it will automatically convert into an unrestricted MD driver’s license. You will receive a card in the mail that will state this, and you must keep it with your license at all times. You will get a proper unrestricted license at your next renewal.

If you are convicted of a traffic violation, the 18-month countdown will reset starting on the date of the court hearing or the day any suspensions on your license ends.

What If I Have an Out-of-State License?

If you have over 18 months of experience driving with an out-of-state license, you will not be required to downgrade to a provisional license. However, anyone with less than 18 months of experience has to undergo the following provisional license periods (without traffic violations) to get an unrestricted license.

  • If you held an out-of-state license for less than 6 months, you must drive with a provisional license for 18 months conviction-free.
  • If you held an out-of-state license for 6 to 12 months, you must hold a provisional license for 12 months conviction-free.
  • If you held an out-of-state license for 12 to 18 months, you must hold your provisional license for 6 months, conviction-free.
  • If you are convicted of a traffic violation, you will be required to drive another 18 months conviction-free before you can get your unrestricted license.

The steps to getting your driver’s license in Maryland are lengthy. If you follow the program and practice safe driving habits, you will have your license in good time!

Check out our summarized manual and online MVA practice tests to make sure you know everything you need to pass your tests and stay safe on the road.

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