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Step-by-step guide to getting a Texas drivers license

Learn the basics of getting your Texas drivers license. We break down the process with this step-by-step guide

Are you a Texas resident who’s ready to get your license? Great! Now is the time to learn about the basics of getting a Texas drivers license.

Sometimes all the steps involved are hard to comprehend. But don’t worry - our team of experts is here to help you make sense of it all. We’re going to break it down with a step-by-step guide that makes it easy to understand. That way you know exactly what to do when you go to the Department of Public Safety (The Department of Public Safety is Texas’ version of the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV).

Let’s get started find out how to get a Texas drivers license!

The Basics of Getting Your Texas Learners Permit

Do you need a permit to get a license in Texas? Yes! Driving in Texas starts with your learners permit. You might ask yourself, what age can you get your license in Texas? Here’s how the timeline breaks down:

  • When you turn 14, you can start taking the required driver education.
  • At 15, you’re eligible to get your instruction permit also known as a learners permit.
  • And when you turn 16, you can convert your permit into a full fledged license!

So basically, one year of learning without driving, then one year of learning while driving with a licensed driver and finally you’ll be driving on your own without a licensed driver. BUT there are still restrictions on where and when you can drive.

The first step to getting a Texas learners permit is signing up for a drivers ed course. Both types of state-approved courses are offered through Aceable!

Texas Parent Taught Drivers Ed (PTDE)

After completing just six hours of this course you can be in the driver’s seat with your permit! The course includes Texas DPS written exam, a parent account and behind-the-wheel training tools.

Texas Instructor Taught Drivers Ed

Get your Texas driving permit quickly with this course if you don’t have a parent that can act as the instructor. The course includes your Texas DPS written exam and gives you the option to choose your behind-the-wheel provider.

The Basics of Getting Your Drivers License in Texas

How do you become eligible for a Texas drivers license? Aceable has everything you need, including all the courses, checklists and practice tests that make earning your license a lot easier.

If You’re Under 18 and Have a Learners Permit

How old do you have to be to drive in Texas? 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 years old. How to get a drivers license in Texas at 16? Once you turn 16 if you’ve had your permit for six months and you pass the driving exam your Texas driver's permit will be upgraded to a provisional license.

If you’re already 16, you might be thinking you can skip the whole permit part. Unfortunately, if you’re under 18, you still have to hold an instructional permit for six months before you can get your Texas driver license.

If You’re Over 18 Years Old

What about adults who need to learn how to drive? There’s a similar process for getting your Texas driver license as an adult. People 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 drivers education, although it’s still recommended.

So, the first step to getting your license is taking drivers ed. Based on your age, you’ll have different requirements for what course you need to take. Here is a breakdown by age:

All About Driver Education in Texas

There’s no shortage of drivers ed options in Texas. It’s available for everyone and mandatory for some. Here’s what you need to know before signing up for a drivers ed course.

Teen Drivers Ed Courses

Let’s break down the drivers ed requirements for teens 14-17 years old. Teen drivers ed is made up of two separate portions of drivers ed learning:

  • Classroom: 32 hours (limited to two hours per day)
  • Behind-the-wheel: 44 hours (limited to one hour per day)

You’re limited to two hours per day of both types of learning combined. So, if you take your one hour of behind-the-wheel, you can only take one more hour of classroom learning that day.

Behind-the-Wheel Training

What exactly 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 instruction includes:

  • 7 hours of observation (watching a parent or instructor).
  • 7 hours of training (driving while a parent or instructor coaches you)
  • 30 hours of practice (driving with a licensed driver). 10 of those practice hours must be done at night.

Block vs Concurrent Method for Drivers Ed

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.

Other programs use the concurrent method, meaning you can get your learner's permit in Texas after six hours of classroom instruction and finish both phases of driver education together. At Aceable, we use the concurrent method. You can work on your behind-the-wheel practice hours while finishing up your 32 coursework hours.

3 Ways to Take Teen Drivers Ed

In Texas you may have to take teen drivers ed, but at least you have options for when and where the courses are taught. There are three different types of teen drivers ed courses:

Drivers Ed Course at a Public School

These are taught at high schools, but they aren’t available everywhere. Some offer just classroom and some offer both classroom and behind-the-wheel. Classes are usually taught at night or during the summer, but space is always limited so make sure you sign up early if this is the route you want to go!

Drivers Ed at a Driver Training School

These are schools made for behind-the-wheel training. Sometimes you can do both the behind-the-wheel and classroom portion, but at some schools you can do the behind-the-wheel portion and take the classroom coursework at an online drivers ed partner.

Parent-Taught Driver Education (PTDE)

With PTDE, the parent does not have to teach their children drivers ed, but they are responsible for overseeing all 44 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. This means the parent just picks the classroom course provider. Online drivers ed is becoming an extremely popular choice for teens that choose PTDE. This way, you can complete drivers ed on your schedule.

If Parent Taught Drivers Ed is so inexpensive and convenient, why isn’t everyone doing it? Primarily because there are 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. You’ll want to check all rules for parent instructor eligibility before signing up.

There’s one more crucial component to Parent Taught Drivers Ed: the PTDE Packet. Basically, the PTDE Packet helps prove that you’re actually doing drivers ed. You can order this from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) for $20.

Looking for more information on Parent Taught Drivers Ed? Check out our Step-by-Step Guide to see if it is the right choice for you.

Texas Adult Drivers Ed

If you’re 18 years or older, you’re still required to take drivers ed, but it’s different than teen drivers ed. Adult drivers ed is a much shorter six-hour course.

You can choose to take adult drivers ed online with Aceable or at a brick-and-mortar school. If you check the TDLR website, you can find a list of all driver education schools in Texas so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

The process is different than teen drivers ed in the fact that you don’t have to have a learners permit or complete behind-the-wheel training. It’s a much easier and quicker process.

Texas Learner Permit Requirements

In order to get your learner's permit, also known as an instruction permit, you have to pass a written test. You may be eligible to take the test after just six hours of drivers ed, depending on whether your course abides by the concurrent or block method.

Sometimes you can take the written test in your drivers ed class or, if you enrolled in an online program, you can take the test within the course.

When you pass the test, you’ll receive a certificate of completion that you can bring to your local Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office. If your drivers ed program doesn’t offer the test you have to 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 the paperwork.

What to Give the DPS to Get a Texas Learners Permit

Speaking of paperwork, when you go to the DPS to pick up your permit, you’re going to need some documents.

Let’s talk about what to bring to the DPS to get your learners permit:

  • Proof of identity
  • Two documents as proof of Texas residency
  • Proof of social security number
  • Proof of enrollment/graduation from school, like a VOE form, high school diploma, or GED
  • Proof that you are enrolled in/completed PTDE and forms from your PTDE packet
  • $16 for learner license fee

Make sure you have original copies of all these documents, because photocopies will not be accepted.

Texas Teen Driver License Requirements

What are the Texas driver's license requirements? So you’ve finished drivers ed, you’re at least 16 years old and you’ve held your permit for at least six months. Well, you’re ready to get your driver license! The last step you have to complete before taking your driving test is taking the Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) course.

ITTD is a free, two-hour video course that must be completed no more than 90 days before you show up at the DPS to get your driver license. To complete the ITTD course go to the Texas DPS website and register. You can complete the course all in one two-hour sitting or take it in 15-minute increments. When you’re done, you’ll get a certificate certifying your completion.

The last step is passing your driving test! The driving exam is just to make sure all your education and practice have helped you become a safe driver that understands the rules of the road.

What to Bring to the DPS for the Texas Driving Test

Let’s take a look at the DPS forms and other documentation that you’ll need to provide before you can take the driving test.

  • Proof of yours or your parent's’ car insurance
  • Proof of yours or your parent’s Texas motor vehicle registration
  • Proof of enrollment/graduation from school, like a VOE form, high school diploma, or GED
  • Certificates of Completion for Drivers Ed and ITTD

You’ll also need:

  • Your parent instructor
  • Your permit
  • A vehicle that can pass the safety inspection

Bring those, pass your driving test and you’re done! You’re officially a licensed driver and can hit those open Texas roads! You’ll start with your restricted license until you’re 18 years old, then you can graduate to an unrestricted license.

Texas Adult Driver License Requirements

How to get your license in Texas when you are 18? If you’re an adult in the eyes of the law, then you don’t have quite as many license requirements (in Texas) as an underage teen driver. But there’s still a few things that have to be done before you can get a Texas drivers license.

Impact Texas Young Driver Course

As of 2017, adults between the age of 18-24 are required to take an Impact Texas Young Drivers (ITYD) course in addition to drivers ed. It’s a 1-hour video that’s broken up into four modules. This needs to be completed after your 6-hour driver education course.

You can take the course through the ITYD website.

The Written Exam and Road Test

Once the education requirements are met you can move on to the testing phase. To get your license, you’ll have to pass two tests:

  • A written knowledge exam
  • A behind-the-wheel road test

You may be able to take the written exam with your drivers ed program, so then all you’ll have to do when you get to the Department of Public Safety is take your driving test. That’s just one perk of taking drivers ed with Aceable.

What to Bring to the DPS for Your Tests

Let’s talk about what to bring to the DPS to get your adult drivers license:

  • Driver license application (found at DPS)
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of social security number
  • Two documents as proof of Texas residency
  • Proof of name change (only if your name is now different than what’s on your proof of identity document - for example, from marriage or divorce)
  • Certificate of completion for drivers ed
  • Driver license fee of $25

Find a complete, printable checklist here!

Again, only legit originals are allowed - photocopies will not be accepted. But once you have those and you pass your driving test, you’ll officially be a licensed driver with full driving privileges!

Other Drivers License Options in Texas

Not quite ready to take the wheel totally alone? It’s better to be safe and ease your way into the drivers seat if you aren’t feeling completely confident. If you want some more driving experience before taking your driving test, you have two options:

  • You can get your Texas adult permit, which is for people ages 18-24 who have never driven before.
  • You can get your Texas driver license with a B-Restriction, which is for drivers age 25+.

Both of these are an easy way to get practice with other licensed drivers in the vehicle before taking the wheel solo. For each of these, bring $25, the correct DPS documents, and pass a vision test.

Are you ready to get started on Texas drivers ed? Sign up and start completing your education requirement today.