New York Driver's License

How to Get a New York Driver’s License

by Zutobi · Updated Jan 05, 2022

Getting your driver’s license in the state of New York is an exciting time. Once you get one, you’ll be allowed to freely explore the Empire state and country as you please! However, like many, New York State requires new drivers to progress through their version of the Graduated Drivers License program before getting your license – regardless of your age.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through each step of the way towards gaining your NY driver’s license.

New York Learner’s Permit

The learner’s permit is the first thing you need to get, regardless of your age. You must be at least 16 years old to apply for one.

You will need to pass both a vision test and a written exam to obtain your permit. The written exam consists of 20 questions of which you must answer 14 correctly to pass. Remember to bring proof of birthdate, social security status, identification, and residence to the DMV along with your driver’s license application.

Once you have your permit, you will need to abide by the following restrictions:

  • May not drive on any street within a park in NYC
  • May not drive on any bridge or tunnel under jurisdiction of the Tri-Borough Bridge or Tunnel Authority
  • May not drive unless accompanied by an adult 21 years or older

If you want to know more about this part of the licensing process, we recommend that you read our complete New York learner’s permit guide here.

Junior Driver’s License

Getting your junior driver’s license is the next step to the GDL. To be eligible to advance to this stage, you will need to hold your permit for six months before applying.

How to Get a Junior Driver’s License in New York

You must complete 50 hours of supervised driving, including 15 hours of night driving and 10 hours in light to moderate traffic. Afterwards, you’ll be prompted to take a driver education course or a 5 hour pre licensing course. The NY DMV will require you to present a certificate of completion before taking the road exam.

You’ll have to schedule and pass the road test during this stage of the process. Walk-ins are not allowed. On the day of your exam, you’ll be tested on your ability to operate a vehicle safely. The administrator will also test your ability to perform key driving maneuvers such as parking, left/right turns, maintaining a safe following distance and more.

Remember to bring proof of birthdate, social security status, identification, and residence on test day.

Junior Driver’s License Restrictions

  • May drive without supervision to work school, and social events from 5am to 9pm, restricted from operating from 9pm to 5am
  • Only one passenger under 21 is allowed
  • Driving in New York City is prohibited

Unrestricted New York Drivers License

If you’re under 18, you will automatically receive your full New York drivers license in the mail once your turn 18. If you are already over the age of 18, you will be granted your license as soon as you complete the road exam.

For the first 6 months you hold your license, you’ll be under a probationary period. During this time, you’ll have your license suspended for 60 days if you commit any of the following traffic offenses:

  • Speeding
  • Street racing
  • Reckless driving
  • Following too closely
  • Using mobile device while driving
  • Any 2 moving violations

If you are convicted of any of the above, you will have to complete another 6 month probationary period following your suspension. If you are convicted again, you’ll have your license revoked for at least 6 months.

That’s It!

That’s all there is to getting a driver license in the state of New York. While there are quite a few steps, it’s not nearly as complicated as you think – as long as you know exactly what you’re doing. If you need any help studying for your upcoming knowledge or driving exams, then Zutobi is the perfect study resource with a summarized handbook, New York permit practice tests, and a gamified experience.

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