Licensing & State Laws

Kentucky’s multi-stage licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time. The learner’s permit and intermediate stages are key steps.

Learner’s Permit

At age 16, teens can apply for a learner’s permit in the state of Kentucky. To do so, both teen and parent must visit their local driver exam office with a Social Security card, school attendance form and state-certified copy of the teen’s birth certificate. Teens must pass a written driver’s knowledge test and a vision test to receive a learner’s permit.

With a learner’s permit, teens may only drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. Teens are required to practice driving for at least 60 hours, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or a legal guardian, before they’re allowed an intermediate permit.

Intermediate License

When teens turn 16 ½, have had a learner’s permit for at least 180 days and have completed 60 hours of practice driving, they can apply for this intermediate permit. Teens must pass a behind-the-wheel driving test and provide proof of having completed the practice driving time on a form signed and dated by a legal guardian.

Teens with intermediate licenses are allowed to drive alone, but must follow certain restrictions. They may not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. (Exceptions are granted for school, work and emergencies.) They are also prohibited from driving with more than one non-family member passenger under age 20, unless an adult with a valid license is seated next to them in the vehicle. Intermediate license holders who are convicted of a moving violation will have to restart the 180-day learner’s permit holding period before regaining their intermediate license.

Full License

At age 17 teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license if they have held an intermediate license for at least six months and have taken a certified driver education course (there are several options offered by the state, community colleges, vocational schools, private driver training schools and more). Without driver education, teens can get an unrestricted license at age 18. The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses. However, AAA encourages parents to maintain their own rules.

A parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

Visit the Kentucky Department of Transportation for more information.

The Kentucky Department of Transportation, through its Division of Drivers Licensing, is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Kentucky. The Kentucky State Police conducts the written exam and road test needed to get a driver’s license. It also provides study materials to help your teen get ready for the exams.

Remind your teen that police can and will enforce all requirements on seat belt use, drinking and driving, and other laws. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.

  • If stopped by the police, teens should present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • Whether stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
  • If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.

If your teen gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance. Judges deal seriously and directly with teen traffic violations. They can assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses – even for a first offense, depending on the type of violation.