Licensing & State Laws
To get your driver’s license in Indiana, you’ll move through multiple licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.
At age 15, you may apply for a learner’s permit and begin practice driving if you have enrolled in a state-approved driver education class. You must also pass a standard vision test and a written driver’s knowledge test. Practice driving may begin only after the driver education class begins and you must be accompanied by a certified driving instructor in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with dual brake controls, or a parent, step-parent or guardian who has a valid driver’s license and is seated in the vehicle’s front passenger seat.
If you are not enrolled in an approved driver education class, you must be at least age 16 to apply for a learner’s permit to begin practice driving. Once you pass the written driver’s knowledge test and a standard vision test, you will get a learner’s permit. You may then practice driving with a licensed parent, guardian, step-parent or other relative who is at least 25 years of age or with a licensed driving instructor working under the direction of a driving school who is seated in the vehicle’s front passenger seat.
To obtain the learner’s permit, you and your parent or guardian must visit the local Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles license branch and bring the original, completed Certificate of Driver Education form provided by the driver education program or school, an original or certified copy of your birth certificate or unexpired U.S. Passport, two original documents with your name and Indiana residential address, and one original document with your name and Social Security number.
A learner’s permit allows you to drive only with an approved supervisor. You must hold the learner’s permit for at least 180 days and complete a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving (including 10 hours at night) with a licensed instructor, a licensed driver who is at least 25 years old (*and related to the teen by blood, marriage or legal status), or a spouse who is at least 21 years old. * Applies to drivers under 18 years of age.
Keep track of your practice driving with the AAA Driving Log.
At age 16 and 90 days, you may apply for a probationary driver’s license if you have passed a driver education course, which includes both 30 hours of classroom or online training AND 6 hours behind-the-wheel training. You must pass a driving skills test either through an approved driver education program or at the BMV. You must have held the permit for 180 days and completed 50 hours of supervised driving. A parent or guardian must accompany you to the license branch to sign all the necessary forms.
If you have not passed a driver education course and want to apply for a probationary license you must:
- Be at least 16 and 270 days old;
- Have held a learner’s permit for 180 days;
- Have completed 50 hours of supervised driving; and
- Pass a driving skills test provided through the license branch.
A parent or guardian must accompany you to the license branch to sign all the necessary forms.
With a probationary driver’s license you may drive without a parent or supervisor, but must follow certain rules to help keep safe. For the first 180 days, new drivers under the age of 21 may not drive with any passengers other than their sibling, step-sibling, child, step-child or spouse unless accompanied by a parent, guardian, licensed adult age 25 or older, or a certified driver education instructor. You may not drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. After 180 days, the passenger limit expires, however, if you are under 18 years of age, the night limit relaxes to 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. (Sunday-Thursday nights) and 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. (Friday and Saturday nights). The night limit includes exemptions for trips to school, work, or religious events. Novice drivers under age 21 may not use a wireless device (handheld or hands-free) for a phone call, text message, or any other purpose other than calling 911. You and all passengers must wear seat belts.
After holding a probationary license for 180 days, or at age 21, you are eligible for a full unrestricted license.
Now is a good time to set up a parent-teen driving agreement to help you and your parents establish expectations related to both their rules and the laws in your state.
For more information on the licensing process, visit the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is in charge of licensing for all drivers in the state. The BMV:
- Conducts the written exam and road test for your learner’s permit and probationary license.
- Provides study materials to help you get ready for the exams.
- Keeps track of your license status and can suspend your license if you get too many tickets, don’t keep insurance on your car or commit other violations.
Your parents will set rules as you learn to drive. But state and local police are involved, too, enforcing traffic laws and investigating crashes. By enforcing laws and requirements on seat belt use, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and teen license restrictions, police keep everyone on the road safer. Breaking laws can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.
- If pulled over by the police, present your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- If stopped as a driver or passenger, always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
- If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, talk to your parents about it immediately afterward.
- Use a parent-teen driving agreement.
- Keep your parents in the know about who you ride with.
- Let your parents know when and where you’re headed.
- StartSmart: Practice Driving – AAA’s tips for parents and teens about practice driving.
- StartSmart: Always Use Seat Belts – 63 percent of 16- to 20-year-olds who die in car crashes aren’t buckled up.
- StartSmart: Distractions and Driving – Read about the most common distractions, and get helpful advice for teens and parents.