DC Permit Requirements

When applying for a DC teen driver permit with DC Department of Motor Vehicles, it is important to know the permit requirements.  Make sure that you meet the DMV requirements and that you have the necessary documents ready.

Since the nation’s capital is not part of any particular state, the District of Columbia maintains its own driver licensing system through the DC Department of Motor Vehicles.  The DMV issues permits and licenses and conducts written and knowledge tests just like any other state licensing agency.  Teens in DC must be at least 16 before they can apply for a learner permit.  The new driver under the age of 21 will then work through the various phases of the District’s Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers (GRAD) program.

The process begins with completing the Driver License Application, http://dmv.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dmv/publication/attachments/New%20DLVR%20Application%2007-01-2013%20p7.pdf which can be filled out ahead of time.  Applicants can also register to vote on the same form.  Teens under the age of 18 must also have their parent’s written consent http://dmv.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dmv/publication/attachments/consent.pdf to drive.  This verifies that an adult is taking responsibility for the applicant’s driving.  The responsible parent must also show a valid ID and proof of residency (see below).

The applicant must also provide documentation showing proof of identity, social security number and DC residency.  This may be accomplished with the following documents. 

  • an original birth certificate or valid US passport
  • a Social Security card
  • official mail such as a utility bill or lease agreement or mortgage showing the address of the responsible parent with whom the applicant resides

The applicant must also pass a vision test and a written knowledge test.   The fees include $20 for the permit and a $10 testing fee.  These fees are only for the permit.  The provisional license will also cost $20, and a full driver license costs $44, and is valid for 8 years.

The written knowledge test consists of 30 multiple choice questions, and applicants must correctly answer at least 24 questions, for a score of 80% in order to pass.  Those who do not pass the knowledge test are required to wait at least 3 days before attempting a retest.

Once the permit is issued, the new driver may drive only with an adult aged 21 in the front seat, and only between 6 AM and 9 PM.  The permit is valid for one year.  At this point the driver can begin accruing the required 40 hours of practice driving under the instruction of a supervising driver. These hours should be logged here. http://dmv.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dmv/publication/attachments/form_40_hours.pdf

To be eligible for a provisional license, the driver must be 16 ½, and have held the permit for at least 6 months without violations.  After passing the Road Skills Test, the provisional driver may drive alone between 6 AM and 11 PM on weeknights, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.  Exceptions to these hours are made for driving to and from work, school or religious activities.  The provisional license allows only one licensed passenger over the age of 21 or the driver’s siblings.

After 6 months of driving with a provisional license, the driver is eligible for a full license with conditions, starting at the age of 17.  The driver must also be violation-free for 12 months, and complete 10 additional supervised practice hours after dark, to be documented here. http://dmv.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dmv/publication/attachments/form_10_hours.pdf  Drivers under age 18 may only carry 2 non-sibling passengers under the age of 21, and are restricted from driving after 11 PM on weeknights, and midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Violations of any of the GRAD program restrictions can result in suspension of driving privileges.  Any other moving violations will also extend the time that the driver must wait to move to the next level.