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Drivers licenses are official documents issued by different state motor vehicle departments that authorize the respective holder to legally operate a motor vehicle of a specific class. Therefore, applying for drivers licenses is a process that must be completed in order to avoid violating the applicable motor vehicle laws. To successfully apply for driving licenses, applicants must meet several eligibility criteria, such as submitting the necessary identification documents and passing the driving tests through a local DMV office. However, the requirements for a new drivers license may vary based on the applicant's age, the type of license he or she is requesting and whether or not he or she is a new state resident. Drivers who have moved from another state, for instance, are not typically required to retake the driving tests when applying for a new license. The procedure to get drivers licenses may also vary from state to state due to the different practices of specific state DMVs. Review the general requirements to apply for a new DMV license and the steps in the drivers license application process by reading the following sections:
- Eligibility criteria for a driving license.
- Document requirements for a driver's license.
- How to apply for a license to drive.
Eligibility Criteria for a Driving License
The process of getting drivers licenses can be successfully completed only after meeting a specific set of requirements set forth by your state motor vehicle department. While the eligibility criteria for new driving licenses are implemented to verify the driver's identity and his or her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, the requirements may still vary based on the applicant's specific circumstances. For example, teenage driving license applicants will generally be required to hold their learner's permits for a specific amount of time prior to applying for the full license. On the other hand, adult applicants applying for driving licenses in certain states, such as Colorado, can immediately schedule their driving test after obtaining a permit.
The general requirements to get a state drivers license include, but are not limited to:
- Proving your state residency and legal presence in the U.S.
- Meeting the minimum age requirement set forth by your state DMV.
- Holding a learning permit for a specific period of time (if required).
- Completing a driver's education program (if required).
- Accumulating a certain amount of supervised driving hours (if required).
- Having a clean driving record.
- Passing the mandatory driving tests.
Note: The above list of requirements for a license to drive is not all-inclusive and state DMVs accommodate them on a case-by-case basis. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be required to fulfill additional criteria.
Document Requirements for a Driver's License
As part of the drivers license application criteria, applicants will also be required to submit a set of evidentiary documents. The submitted driver license information is generally used to prove the driver's identity, age, date of birth, state residency and legal presence within the country. Drivers getting driving licenses may also be required to submit proof of their status in the Social Security program. Depending on the practices of specific state drivers license departments, the number and type of documents that you must submit will vary. If you are applying for a DMV drivers license in Arizona, for example, you will be asked to submit at least one primary and one secondary identification document, which will serve as proof for the purposes outlined above. The Arizona Department of Transportation separates the acceptable documents into two lists based on their importance.
How to Apply for a License to Drive
The application process for a new DMV license is comprised of several mandatory steps, which generally vary based on the circumstances of the applicant and the practices of individual state DMVs. In order to finalize the driving license application process, drivers will typically be required to make multiple visits to a nearby DMV office. The following list outlines the steps that must generally be completed when applying for DMV licenses through your state motor vehicle department:
- Fill out and submit the corresponding application forms.
- Submit the necessary identification documents.
- Pass the vision screening and the knowledge exam in order to obtain a learning permit.
- Surrender your out-of-state license (if applying as a new resident).
- Schedule and pass your driving test in order to upgrade your permit to an unrestricted driving license.
- Pay the applicable drivers license cost.
Note: Contact your local DMV location for specific details about the DMV license application process within your state, as it may vary based on your circumstances.
When getting drivers licenses, young motorists will generally be required to earn their eligibility for a full unrestricted credential through participation in their state's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. Depending on your age and previous experience, you will be able to upgrade your drivers license in several stages, with each stage granting expanded driving privileges. For example, minor drivers can obtain an intermediate license to drive in Texas after holding their learning permits for six consecutive months. This type of DMV license will allow the holder to drive without supervision only during certain periods of the day. Then, after reaching a certain age, drivers can get driving licenses without any restrictions.
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