Washington state drivers permit

Getting Your Washington Learners Permit: A Complete Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Dec 16, 2021

Every first-time driver under the age of 18 in Washington has to start with an instruction permit, also known as a learner’s permit. In this guide, we will go through everything you need to know about the process, including any special restrictions and other requirements.

Washington Instruction Permit Requirements

You can apply for your permit as soon as you turn 15 years old:

  • If you are under 15 ½ – you are required to enroll in a state approved drivers education course.
  • If you’re over 15 ½ – you are not required to enroll in a state approved drivers education course. However, you will be required to pass a written knowledge exam at the time of your permit application, and you will not be eligible for an unrestricted drivers license until you turn 18 years old. The knowledge test consist of 40 questions, and you will need to get 32 correct to pass.

How to Get Your Washington Instruction Permit

  1. Pre-apply for your Washington ID Number, if you do not have one.
  2. Decide if you want to enroll in a state approved drivers education course.
    • If you are taking a driver’s training course, you must finish your application for a permit online or at a local Washington DOL office 1-10 days before your classes start. You need your permit to do the behind-the-wheel portions of your class.
  3. Gather Your Documents. Make sure to bring original documents. Photocopies will not be accepted. If you are under 18, you must bring a parent or guardian with you or have a signed parental authorization affidavit. You will need to bring the following documents:
    • Proof of Identity.
    • Proof of Social Security Number (if you plan to apply for your license online later).
  1. Pass a Vision Screening.
  2. Pass the Knowledge Test (optional). If you decide not to enroll in a drivers education course, you need to pass the knowledge test. It consist of 40 questions, and you need to get 32 correct to pass.
  3. Have Your Photo Taken.
  4. Pay the WA learners permit fee.
  5. Receive your Permit. At first you will receive a temporary card that you need to have whenever you drive. Your permit will come in the mail within 7 to 10 days.

Learners Permit Driving Restrictions

  • You can drive on public roads as long as your parent, guardian, or driving instructor is in the seat beside you. This supervising driver must have a valid license and at least five years of driving experience.
  • You can not use a phone or hands-free device while driving, except in an emergency.
  • All vehicle occupants must wear a seatbelt at all times.

How to Progress to a License

In order to progress from an instruction permit to an intermediate license, you must:

  1. Be at least 16 years old
  2. Hold your permit for at least six months
  3. Pass a driver’s training course. If you skip this, you can not apply for a full license until age 18.
  4. Not have been convicted of any traffic violations within six months of your application. 
  5. Complete and log 50 hours of supervised driving, with 10 of those hours being at night.
  6. Pass the driving test.
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