drivers license

Getting Your Pennsylvania Driver’s License

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Apr 30, 2021

There are three stages to getting your driver’s license in Pennsylvania:

  1. Learner’s Permit
  2. A Restricted Junior Driver’s License (if you are under 18)
  3. An Unrestricted License (Ages 18+)

If you are over 18, you will be able to skip straight to your Unrestricted License after passing the appropriate vision, Knowledge, and Driving tests.

If you are under 18, you will need to apply for your junior restricted driver’s license first.

Stage 1 – Learner’s Permit

You must keep your driver’s permit for six months before you can apply for a Junior Driver’s License (you can read our full PA learner’s permit guide here).

If you are under 18, you also need:

  • 65 registered hours of driving practice
  • 10 of those hours must be at night
  • 5 of those hours must be in bad weather, like heavy rain.
  • These hours MUST be accounted for on form DL-180C and signed by your parent in person at the license office.

This is to ensure you gain the skills to be a responsible driver before you take your road test. If you’re over 18, you do not have this restriction, but it is still a good idea to get the same practice before the road test.

You will have three tries to pass your Pennsylvania road test. The driving test is a practical exam where you demonstrate your knowledge of laws, safety, and traffic signs on a public road. You can attempt the road test three times before you have to apply for a new permit and retake the written knowledge test.

If you pass your vision exam, knowledge test, and road test, you will be issued a junior driver’s license. You will need to practice with your junior license for one year before you can move onto an unrestricted driver’s license.

Don’t know what to study? We recommend preparing with Zutobi’s Pennsylvania practice tests and summarized driver’s handbook. There is no easier way to ace your test!

What are the Learner’s Permit Restrictions?


You must ALWAYS drive with a valid license holder over the age of 21. In addition, there are other restrictions:

  • You cannot drive between 11 pm and 5 am except for your job or local and charitable events you are part of. You must have signed affidavits or other documents from your supervisors to do so.
  • You can only carry one non-family member under the age of 18 with you in the vehicle.
  • If you accumulate over 6 points of demerits on your record, or if you are caught driving 26 or more miles over the speed limit, your permit will be suspended for 90 days.

You can find the full list on Penndot.gov’s Teen Driver Page.

Stage 2 – Pennsylvania Junior Driver’s License

You can drive unsupervised with a Junior Driver’s License, but there are heavy restrictions.

  1. You may not drive between 11 pm and 5 am unless:
    • You have a parent, guardian, or spouse over the age of 18 with you.
    • If you are involved in public or charitable service.
    • You are a member of the volunteer fire department.
    • You work during those hours.
    • NOTE: You must carry a notarized affidavit or other certificates of authority from your employer or supervisor to prove you need to travel in this time frame. You should carry this paperwork with your license at all times.
  2. You may never carry more passengers than there are available seat belts.
  3. You may NOT carry more than one non-family member under the age of 18 unless your parent, guardian, or spouse is with you and they hold a valid driver’s license. After the first six months, the limit is raised to three- unless you have been involved in a crash or convicted of any driving violations. Then the limit stays at one for the duration of your junior license.
  4. You will receive a mandatory 90-day suspension if you accumulate 6 or more points on your driving record OR you are caught going over 26 miles over the speed limit.

You may apply for your Junior Driver’s License by mail by filling out form DL-59 and having it notarized. The form is available online here. PennDOT will send you an updated card to carry with your Junior license, or for a fee, you can get a regular license.

Stage 3 – Unrestricted Driver’s License

How Can I Move on to an Unrestricted Driver’s License?

You can remove the restrictions on your license in one of two ways:

  • You can automatically move to apply for an unrestricted license when you turn 18

OR

  • You have practiced for a year or more without any crashes or violations on your record, and you take an approved driver’s safety course. You will also need to fill out Form DL-59 and get a signed affidavit from your parents or guardians.

Getting your Pennsylvania driver’s license is an amazing milestone in life – If you are looking for study aids to help you ace the written and driving exams, check out Zutobi’s summarized Pennsylvania Driver’s Handbook and online practice tests!

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