Licensing & State Laws

To get your driver’s license in Minnesota, you’ll move through three licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.

Instructional Permit

When you turn 15, you may apply for an instructional permit once your parent or legal guardian has signed an application. You must complete 30 hours of classroom instruction from an accredited driver education school and be enrolled in or complete behind-the-wheel instruction. Upon passing a vision and written test you’ll be issued an instructional permit.

With an instructional permit, you may only drive under the supervision of a certified driving instructor, licensed parent, legal guardian or other driver age 21 or older. After dark, you may only drive while supervised by a licensed driver age 25 or older.

Teens must log a minimum of 40 hours of supervised practice driving, including 15 hours at night.  The law also requires an optional 90-minute supplemental education session for parents to provide information concerning graduated licensing, safety risks and the potential inmnuence of adults on driving behavior.  If a teen’s parents do not complete the class, the teen must acquire an additional 10 hours of supervised practice driving.

Provisional License

When you turn 16 and have driven conviction-free on an instructional permit for at least six months, you may apply for a provisional license. Your parent or legal guardian must first certify that you’ve completed the minimum requirements for practice driving. Then, upon presenting proof of driver education course completion and passing a road test, you’ll be issued a provisional license.

With your provisional license, you’ll be allowed to drive alone; however, for the first six months, you must be accompanied by a parent or licensed adult age 25 or older when driving between midnight and 5 a.m. Exceptions apply when driving between home, work and school. Additionally, for the first six months, only one passenger under age 20 is permitted to ride with you (immediate family members exempted) unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. After six months, only three passengers under age 20 are permitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Full License

After 12 months on a provisional license or reaching age 18, you may apply for a full license as long as you’ve had no more than one non-crash-related moving violation. If you’re under age 18, your parent or guardian must certify that you’ve driven under the supervision of a licensed driver (age 21 or older) for at least 10 additional hours.

In all instances, teen drivers and their passengers must wear safety belts. Additionally, Minnesota law prohibits teens age 18 and under from using a cell phone or other wireless device while driving — except for calling 911 or other emergency purposes. All Minnesota drivers are prohibited from composing, reading or sending text messages or accessing the Internet while driving.

Now is a good time to set up a parent-teen driving agreement to help you and your parents establish expectations related to both family rules and state laws.

The Minnesota Driver & Vehicle Services Division is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Minnesota. All written exams and behind-the-wheel tests required for your driver’s license can be performed at any DVS service center. Please check in advance for locations, hours, fees, plus acceptable forms of identification you’ll need to present when applying for each stage of licensing. Study materials to help you get ready for the exams are also available.

Your parents will do most of the rule setting and enforcement as you learn to drive. But state and local police are involved, too.

Police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. By enforcing traffic laws and requirements on seat belt use, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and teen licensing laws, police keep everyone on the road safer. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.

  • If pulled over by the police, expect to present your driver’s license, the 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.

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.