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: Maryland Learner’s Permit
An Instructional Permit is Mandatory in Maryland
Every first-time driver is required to start with a learner’s permit in the state of Maryland, regardless of age. You will need to bring proof of identity, your Social Security Number, and proof of residency to your local DMV to get started. You will also be required to take a Knowledge test and Vision exam.
In addition, while you hold the permit, you are required to take an MVA-certified Driver’s Education Program. The time you must hold your Instructional License, and the number of practice hours you need to accumulate, all depend on your age.
- If you are under age 16, you need to submit a Form DL-300 to show you are attending school with minimal absences. Otherwise, the process stays the same for applicants under 18.
- If you are under 18, you will also need to have your parents co-sign your application.
The Written Knowledge Test
The Knowledge test covers the laws and safety regulations outlined in the Maryland DMV Handbook. It will have 25 questions on it, and you have to get 22 right to pass.
Test your knowledge of traffic laws using our free online practice test – there is no better way to make sure you pass your test on the first try!
MD Learner’s Permit Restrictions
You must hold your instructional permit for nine months without any traffic violations to progress to the next stage. In addition, you need to accumulate 60 practice hours in which:
- You drive with a supervising driver and log those hours.
- 10 of those hours need to happen in the night time hours. Or more accurately “during the period beginning 30 minutes before sunset and ending 30 minutes after sunrise.”
- If you are 18 with a diploma OR ages 19-24, you will submit proof of graduation, but the process otherwise remains the same as for those under 18. You will need to hold your permit for a minimum of 3 months without any traffic violations before you can move to the next stage.
- If you are over 25 years old, you must hold your permit for at least 45 days without a traffic violation before you can move onto the next stage. In addition, you only need to accumulate 14 practice hours with a supervising driver. Three of those hours must be “during the period beginning 30 minutes before sunset and ending 30 minutes after sunrise.”
No matter what age you are, if you are convicted of a traffic violation, you must hold your permit nine additional months after the hearing date or after a suspension ends, if applicable.
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:
- Successfully complete a Maryland Driver’s Education Program.
- Hold your instructional permit for the required time, without traffic violations in the period.
- Submit a completed and signed Practice and Skills log
- Have a valid and unexpired Maryland instructional permit
- Successfully pass the driving skills test
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.
Step 3: Full Maryland Driver’s Licence
Once you hold your provisional driver’s license violation-free for 18 consecutive months, it will automatically convert into an unrestricted 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 Maryland DMV manual and online practice tests to make sure you know everything you need to pass your tests and stay safe on the road.