Licensing & State Laws
To get your driver’s license in Kentucky, you’ll move through three licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.
At age 16, you may apply for a learner’s permit. You and a parent or guardian need to visit your local driver exam office and bring a state-certified copy of your birth certificate, Social Security card and school attendance form. Once you pass the written driver’s knowledge test and a vision test, you’ll be given your learner’s permit.
A learner’s permit lets you drive only with a licensed driver age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. The learner’s permit lets you practice driving with an experienced adult driver. You must practice driving for at least 60 hours (including 10 hours at night) with a parent or legal guardian, before being allowed to get an intermediate license.
When you turn 16 ½ and have had your learner’s permit for at least 180 days, you can go to your local Driver Testing Center to take the driving test. You’ll also need to take proof that you completed 60 hours of practice driving time. Once you do that, you can receive your intermediate license. Make sure a parent comes with you to sign the application form or get your parent’s notarized signature on the form ahead of time.
- Keep track of your practice driving with the AAA Driving Log.
When you have an intermediate license, you’re allowed to drive without a parent, but you must follow certain rules to help keep you safe. Kentucky does not allow teens with intermediate licenses to drive between midnight and 6 a.m. — some of the riskiest driving hours for all drivers and especially teens. Exceptions are granted for travel to and from work, school activities and medical reasons. Kentucky teens also may not drive with more than one non-family passenger under age 20. These restrictions, however, do not apply if you are driving with an adult, licensed passenger seated next to you. You and all of your passengers must wear seat belts while you’re driving. If you are convicted of a moving violation, you will have to restart the 180-day learner’s permit holding period before regaining your intermediate license.
At age 17, you are eligible for a full unrestricted license if you have held the intermediate license for 180 days 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, you can get an unrestricted license at age 18.
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 for teen drivers, visit the Kentucky Department of Transportation.
The Kentucky Department of Transportation, through its Division of Driver Licensing is in charge of licensing for all drivers in the state. The Kentucky State Police conducts the written exam and road test for your learner’s permit and intermediate license. The KDOT 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.
If you get a ticket or are involved in a crash, you may need to appear in court, whether you believe you were at fault or not. This is serious stuff: Judges often assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses – even a first offense.
Police and courts are there when things go wrong. You and your parents can help keep things right.
- 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.