Licensing & State Laws
To get your driver’s license in Texas you’ll move through a multi-stage licensing process. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.
When you turn 15, you may apply for a learner license. 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 number or a valid United States passport. Once you pass the written driver’s knowledge test, a sign recognition test and a vision test, you’ll be given your learner license.
A learner license lets you drive only with a learner license age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. The learner license lets you practice driving with an experienced adult driver. Once you have practiced driving for at least 30 hours (including 10 hours at night) with a parent or legal guardian, you are allowed to get a provisional license.
When you turn 16 and have had your learner license for at least 6 months, you can go to your local Texas Driver License office to take the driving test, or the test may be administered by a Texas Education Agency certified driving school. You’ll also need to provide proof that you completed 30 hours of practice driving time (10 hours of which must be at night). Once you do that, you can receive your provisional license. Make sure a parent comes with you to sign the application form.
- Keep track of your practice driving with the AAA Driving Log.
When you have a provisional license, you’re allowed to drive without a parent, but you must follow certain rules to help keep you safe. You may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. — some of the riskiest hours for all drivers, especially teens. You may not drive with more than one non-family passenger under age 21. These restrictions do not apply if you are driving with a licensed passenger, age 21 or older, seated next to you. You and all your passengers must wear seat belts. If you are under the age of 18, it is against the law for you to use any electronic communication device while driving. And, with Texas’ ZERO tolerance law, if you are under age 21, it is against the law to have any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood stream.
If at age 18 you have successfully completed the provisional license phase, you are eligible for an unrestricted license. All original licenses, other than a learner license, issued to persons under 18 years of age will be marked “Provisional.” The license will be vertical and will be dated to expire on your 18th birthday or the next birthday occurring after the date of issuance.
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 Texas Department of Public Safety.
- Conducts the written exam and road test for your learner’s License and intermediate 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 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.
- 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.