The Super Awesome Guide to Getting Your Driver License in Texas (Complete with Pictures and Infographics If You Don’t Like Reading)
Looking to learn about getting a Texas driver license? You’ve come to the right place, my friend. We’re Aceable: a Drivers Education course that’s helped thousands of folks in Texas get their licenses. But enough about us. This super handy guide is here to help you get started on the journey toward becoming a licensed driver. Pretty exciting, huh? Whether you’re a teenager, parent of a teenager, or adult who hasn’t started driving yet, this article has all the answers you seek. Let’s get this party started.
What’s My Age Again? The Basics of Getting a Driver License
We associate learning to drive with our super sweet 16th birthday, but guess what: You can start Texas Teen Driver Education at age 14. Woot, woot. But (big but) you can’t get your learner’s permit until age 15. You knew there was a catch, didn’t you?
You’re probably aware that a learner’s permit, or instruction permit, means you can only drive with mom and dad or another licensed adult over 21. Sigh. But once you turn 16, and you’ve had your permit for six months, you can start driving all by yourself like a big boy or girl. If you’re already 16, you might be thinking, Sweet, I can skip this whole permit part. Sorry, amigo, but if you’re under 18, you still have to hold an instruction permit for six months before you can get your Texas driver license.
But what about grown-ups who need to learn how to drive? There’s a similar but different protocol for getting your Texas driver license as an adult. Peeps age 14-17 take Texas Teen Drivers Ed and those 18 and older take Texas Adult Drivers Ed. If you’re 25 and older, you don’t even have to take Driver Education, but we recommend it because knowledge is power, amirite?
How Does Teen Drivers Ed Work?
“Cause when you’re fifteen …” — Taylor Swift
How Long Does Teen Drivers Ed Take?
You probably want to get Driver Education over with and move onto the fun part: driving. All in good time, young grasshopper. Teen Drivers Ed has two phases: classroom and behind-the-wheel.
The classroom part takes at least 32 hours, and you can’t complete more than two hours of coursework per day. The behind-the-wheel part takes 44 hours, and you can’t complete more than one hour per day. Now this is important: You can’t complete more than two hours total of Driver Education per day. Read: You can’t rush through this, folks. There’s no CliffsNotes for Drivers Ed.
But what does “behind-the-wheel” even mean? It’s the phase of Driver Education that allows you to put what you learn in the classroom into practice. Behind the wheel includes seven hours of observation (watching a parent or instructor), seven hours of training (driving while a parent or instructor coaches you) and 30 hours of practice (driving with a licensed driver). Ten of those practice hours must be done at night. You got all that?
But wait — can you take classroom Drivers Ed and behind-the-wheel instruction simultaneously? How we wish there was a simple answer to that. Some Teen Drivers Ed programs abide by the block method, meaning you have to finish all 32 hours in the classroom before you can touch a steering wheel. Others use the concurrent method, meaning you can get your instruction permit after six hours of classroom instruction, and finish both phases of Driver Education together. We already know which method is sounding better to you.
What Are the Different Types of Teen Drivers Ed?
How and where do you Driver Education? That’s where it get a little more complicado. Bear with us. Just as there are three Jonas brothers, there’s three types of Texas Teen Drivers Ed. They are:
1. Drivers Ed at a Public School
2. Drivers Ed at a Driver Training School
3. Parent-Taught Drivers Ed (PTDE)
Drivers Ed at a Public School
Some high schools have their own Texas Teen Driver Ed programs, but note: Space is always limited, so sign up early! These programs vary by school — some offer only the classroom phase, others offer both classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. Classes are usually held in the evening or during the summer. What a vacation, right?
Drivers Ed at a Driver Training School
Driving training schools are pretty self-explanatory. They help students complete those seven hours of observation and seven hours of instruction behind the wheel, and most offer classroom Driver Education, too. Sometimes a driver training school will partner with an Online Drivers Ed course that replaces the classroom. Online, you say? Yep. We’ll talk about that more later.
Parent Taught Drivers Ed (PTDE)
If you’re a parent who’s never heard of PTDE, you’re probably panicking right now. I’m supposed to teach my kid 32 hours of course material? Relax. PTDE simply means that the parent is responsible for overseeing all 44 behind-the-wheel hours. So instead of paying an instructor for those seven hours of observation and seven hours of training, a parent does all of it. That’s why PTDE is becoming the favorite option for Driver Education in Texas — it’s the cheapest.
Remember when we said we’d talk about Online Drivers Ed later? It’s later, now. For teens who take PTDE, Online Driver Ed is an increasingly popular choice. Instead of scheduling Drivers Ed class around practices and summer vacations, students can take the course whenever and wherever they want. There are tons of online providers, and *cough* Aceable is one of them.
If Parent Taught Drivers Ed is so inexpensive and convenient, why isn’t everyone doing it? Primarily because there’s a few stipulations to who can teach Parent Taught Driver Ed. If you’ve had your Texas driver license taken away in the last three years or been convicted of a DUI, you can’t teach Drivers Ed. To view all rules for parent instructor eligibility, click here.
There’s one more crucial component to Parent Taught Drivers Ed: the PTDE Packet. Sounds daunting, but promise it’s not. Basically, the PTDE Packet helps prove that you’re actually doing Driver Ed like you say you are and not watching 44 hours of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. But let’s be honest: an SVU marathon is an education in itself.
If you plan on taking PTDE, you must order a packet before you start the program from the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration website. There’s a $20 fee to get the packet — womp, womp — but getting that driver license will be so worth it. You can request to have the packet mailed or e-mailed, but you’ll receive it a lot faster if you choose e-mail (think: two to three days instead of two to three weeks). For help filling out the forms in the packet, learn more here.
How Do I Get A Permit?
In order to get your learner license, or instruction permit, you have to pass a written test. You may be eligible to take the test after six hours, depending on whether your Driver Ed course abides by the concurrent or block method. Sometimes you can take the test in your Drivers Ed class or, if you enrolled in an online program, you can take the test in the course. When you pass the test, you’ll receive a certificate of completion that you can bring to your local TX DPS to prove that you’re an A-plus driver. If your Drivers Ed program doesn’t offer the test, however, you must make an appointment at the DPS and take the test in person. A parent or guardian needs to come with you to sign off on all paperwork. Call the DPS the referee cause it’s so official.
Speaking of paperwork, when you go to the TX DPS to pick up your permit, you’re going to need some documents.
What to Bring to the DPS for a Learner Permit
- Proof of identity, like an original birth certificate
- Two documents that prove Texas residency, like a high school report card or your parents’ bills
- Proof of social security, like an original social security card
- Proof that you’re enrolled in or have graduated from school, like a VOE form, high school diploma or GED
- Proof that you passed the course and forms from your PTDE Packet, if you took PTDE
- Learner License fee of $16
We’re gonna say this part in all caps because it’s very important: NO PHOTOCOPIES WILL BE ACCEPTED. All documents must be original. This is the real deal, ya’ll.
If you have all those forms and monies and pass the written test as well as a vision exam, then you’re permitted to get your permit! Too punny or nah?
How Do I Get A Teen Driver License?
Once you’ve completed both phases of Driver Ed, held an instruction permit for six months and are at least 16 years old, you’re ready to get your Texas driver license! There’s just a one more thing you have to do: Take Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD).
Huh? Impact Texas Teen Drivers is a free, two-hour video course that you must complete no more than 90 days before you go to the DPS to get your Texas driver license. To take Impact Texas Teen Drivers, just go to the Texas Department of Public Safety website and register to begin. You can take the course in a two-hour sitting or finish it in 15-minute modules if you prefer. Once you’re done, you’ll get a certificate saying that you’ve completed the course. Ta-da!
Okay, so you’ve finished EVERYTHING. But there’s still a test you have to pass — the dun-dun-dun road test, which you’ll take at the TX DPS. Don’t be scared … after all that practice with your permit, you’ll be just fine. Here’s what to bring with on your second trip to the DPS.
What to Bring to the DPS for a Teen Driver License
- Yo mama (your parent instructor)
- Your permit
- Proof of car insurance (can be a parent’s)
- Proof of Texas vehicle registration (can also be a parent’s)
- Your Texas license plates (again, can be a parent’s)
- Proof that you’re enrolled in or have graduated from school, like a VOE form, high school diploma or GED
- Certificates of completion for Driver Ed and ITTD
Congrats! Go be free! Drive with the wind rushing through your hair! Drive with the bass bumping! But please, please, please, above all, drive safely.
Okay, moving along now.
How Does Adult Drivers Ed Work?
“I’m eighteen, and I don’t know what I want …” — Alice Cooper
How Long Does Adult Drivers Ed Take?
Drivers Ed is like Jon Hamm: It gets better with age. If you’re age 18, you’re eligible to take Adult Drivers Ed, which is a shorter, six hour course. The course can be completed online or at a brick-and-mortar driving school. While teens applying for a Texas driver license have to hold a learner permit and complete behind-the-wheel training, none of that is required for people age 18 and older. In summary: Getting your Texas driver license as an adult is much simpler. Phew.
Where Do I Take Adult Drivers Ed?
You can take Adult Driver Ed online or at a school. The TDLR website provides a comprehensive list of all Drivers Education schools in Texas, organized by city, so you can find what you’re looking for whether you live in Abilene or Zapata. Yee-haw.
How Do I Get My Driver License?
After you’ve completed Drivers Ed, you’ve gotta pass some tests to prove you know your stuff. They are:
- Written Knowledge Exam
- Driving Test
Oftentimes you can take the written exam with your Drivers Ed program, whether online or in a classroom. If the course you’re taking does not offer the exam, you’ll need to take it at the DPS. In order to pass the test, you need at least a 70% score. If you fail, you can take it again after 24 hours — plus, there’s no limit to how many times you can take it. You got dis.
After you ace that knowledge exam, you’ll take the driving test. This one’s gotta be done at the TX DPS. You might be thinking, Hold up, hold up. I don’t know how to drive. It’s all good. The following options are not required, but a really good idea if you’ve never driven before.
Texas Adult Permit (for ages 18-24)
Texas License With a B-Restriction (ages 25 and up)
Both an adult permit and drivers license with a B-restriction let you practice with another licensed driver in the car, so you can get the hang of being behind the wheel. To get either, you’ll need to pay a $25 fee, bring the appropriate DPS documents and pass a vision exam. You can save the driving exam for when you’re feeling more confident about your ~*skillz*~.
What to Bring to the DPS for an Adult Driver License
When you’re ready to take the driving exam, we recommend scheduling an appointment before you head to the DPS. You’ll also need to bring some paperwork with you. Funsies. Here’s what you need to have in order to apply for a license:
- Application for a Texas driver license (can get this at the TX DPS)
- Proof of identity, like an original birth certificate or passport
- Proof of social security, like a social security card or W-2
- Two documents that prove Texas residency, like a water bill, mortgage statement or voter registration card
- Proof of name change (if your name is now different than what’s on you proof of identity document), like a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court ordered name change
- Proof of Texas vehicle registration and car insurance (don’t need if you mark that you do not have a car in drivers license application)
- Certificate of completion for Drivers Ed
- Adult drivers license fee of $25
For a complete list of acceptable documents, click here.
Note: NO PHOTOCOPIES ARE ACCEPTED. Unlike the Kardashian sisters’ hair extensions, your documents must be real.
If you have all those documents and pass the driving test … Congrats! YOU’RE OFFICIALLY LICENSED!
But let’s say you fail the test. No biggie. You’ll get three tries to pass within 90 days before a new $25 fee is charged. You got dis, too.
Ready to get started on drivers ed and earn the requirements for your Texas driver license? We recommend Aceable, but hey, we’re a little biased.