In Pennsylvania they dole out licenses to young drivers a little differently. Instead of getting a learner’s permit then moving on to a full-fledge license a few months later, Pennsylvania has a three-stage system.
The process normally goes a little something like this:
- Receive a learner’s permit at 16 years old.
- Practice for at least six months then take the road test to get a restricted junior license.
- Once a driver turns 18 their license will automatically convert into an unrestricted license.
For all you overachievers who can’t wait to feel the full freedom of the road, there is a way to get an unrestricted license sooner. As long as you keep a clean driving record and take a Pennsylvania-approved teen drivers ed course you can get fully licensed before your 18th birthday.
Benefits of Getting a Pennsylvania Senior License
Pennsylvania’s three-stage licensing system is designed to encourage young drivers to practice as much as possible before they hit the road on their own. While other states allow 16-year-olds to get behind the wheel with a regular license, in Pennsylvania you can only hold a learner’s permit at such a young age.
So unfair, right? Well, there’s a way to speed up the process. You can move from a junior license to what’s called a senior license when you turn 17 ½ years old. Senior license is simply another name for a standard, unrestricted license.
Getting the privilege of holding a regular driver license requires a few extra steps, but the benefits are worth it.
Benefit #1 – Unrestricted Driving
The primary benefit of moving from a junior license to a senior license is fewer driving restrictions. With a junior license you can’t drive between 11pm and 5am. You also can’t drive with more than one person under the age of 18 who isn’t a family member unless a parent or guardian is in the vehicle. Even after six months of perfect driving you can’t have more than three teenage friends in the car without an adult present.
Benefit #2 – No “Jr” Label on Your License
Go ahead and get your senior license so you don’t have to have that awful “Jr” designation by your name. Everyone else that automatically moves to a regular license on their 18th birthday will have to request a duplicate card that doesn’t make them look like a minor.
Benefit #3 – Proof You’re Ready to Drive on Your Own
Earning your unrestricted license will show your parents that you’re really ready to take on the responsibility of driving. They may even be more willing to expand your driving boundaries once you’re fully licensed.
Sound like something you may be interested in? Then let’s move on to getting your senior driver license in Pennsylvania.
Requirements for Moving From a Junior License to a Senior Driver License
In order to get a standard, non-commercial license before you turn 18 you have to meet the following requirements:
- Must hold a junior license for at least 1 year.
- Must have no traffic violations.
- Must not have been involved in an at-fault car accident (partially or fully).
- Must complete approved classroom training course.
- Must complete approved behind-the-wheel training course.
If you meet all of these requirements you can apply for a senior license. To do so:
- Complete the DL-59 form.
- Get an affidavit of consent from your parent, guardian, person in loco parentis or spouse that’s over 18 years old.
- Submit the completed DL-59 form and affidavit to the the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).
All paperwork should be sent to:
P.O. Box 68272
Harrisburg, PA 17106-8272
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