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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! Let’s talk about the basics of getting your Texas drivers license. Sometimes all that info is hard to comprehend so we’re going to break it down with a step-by-step guide that makes it easy to understand so 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).

Getting Your Texas Learners Permit

When you turn 14, you can start taking driver education. At 15, you’re eligible to get your instruction permit AKA learner permit. And when you turn 16, you can get your license! So basically, one year of learning without driving, then one year of learning while driving with a licensed driver, then you’ll be driving without a licensed driver (you’ll still be learning, just not through drivers ed or permit driving). Aceable can help you in how to get a drivers license in Texas at 16.

Texas Parent Taught Drivers Ed (PTDE)

Six hours with this course and you could be in the driver’s seat with your permit! 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. The course includes your Texas DPS written exam and gives you the option to choose your behind-the-wheel provider.

Getting Your Drivers License in Texas

Ready to get your Texas drivers license? have everything you need, including all the courses, checklists, and other resources to make earning your license or Texas learners permit a breeze.

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. But once you turn 16, and you’ve had your permit for six months, you can start driving by yourself as your license will be upgraded to a provisional license. If you’re already 16, you might be thinking you can skip this whole permit part. Unfortunately, if you’re under 18, you still have to hold an instruction permit for six months before you can get your TX driver license.

What about adults who need to learn how to drive? There’s a similar but different protocol 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 Driver Education, but we recommend it to make yourself a safer driver.

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

All About Driver Education

Teen Drivers Ed

So let’s break down the drivers ed requirements for teens 14-17. For teen drivers ed, you’re required to take 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.

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?

In summary, the behind-the-wheel portion includes:

  • 7 hours of observation
  • 7 hours of training
  • 30 hours of practice (10 hours must be at night)

Can you take classroom drivers ed and behind-the-wheel instruction simultaneously? The answer is a bit complex. 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.

With Aceable, you can work on your behind-the-wheel practice hours while finishing up your 32 coursework hours. Take what you learned in the course and put it to practice with your parent or instructor! It's that easy.

Types of Teen Drivers Ed

There are three different types of teen drivers ed in Texas:

Drivers ed at a public school These are taught at high schools. 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 driving training. Sometimes you can do both the behind-the-wheel (seven hours of observation and seven hours of instruction) and classroom portion here, sometimes you can do the behind-the-wheel and take classroom at an online 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 provider. For this, online drivers ed is becoming an extremely popular choice. This way, you and your child can learn drivers ed on the schedule that works best for the both of you.

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. 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. You can order this from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) website and it costs $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. It’s different than teen drivers ed in the fact that you don’t have to have a learner permit or complete behind-the-wheel training. It’s a much easier process.

How Long Does Adult Drivers Ed Take?

If you’re age 18, you’re eligible to take adult drivers ed, which is a shorter, six-hour course. 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 and takes less time.

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 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 Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office. 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.

Speaking of paperwork, when you go to the TX 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 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

For these, make sure you have all of the original copies, because photocopies will not be accepted.

Texas Teen Driver 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 Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD).

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. What you do is 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 done-ness.

The last step is passing your driving test! This drive test is just to make sure all your education and practice have helped to make you drive safely. And since you’ve been getting so much practice, you’re sure to ace it.

Let’s talk about what to bring to the driver license office (DPS) to get your license:

  • Your parent instructor
  • Your permit
  • 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

Bring those, pass your driving test, and bam! 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

As of 2017, adults between the age of 18-24 are required to take an pImpact Texas Young Drivers (ITYD) program](https://www.aceable.com/blog/texas-adults-18-24-now-required-to-take-impact-texas-young-drivers-course/) that consists of a 1-hour video that is broken up into four modules. This is to be completed after your 6-hour driver education course.

Take your course through the ITYD website here.

Now you're ready for your driving test.

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.

If you’re wanting 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.

Let’s talk about what to bring to the DPS to get your adult driver 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 all those sweet driving privileges!

So, are you ready to get started on Texas drivers ed?