The state of Washington requires all new drivers under 18 to begin driving with an instruction permit, in order to practice safe driving under supervision before getting their full driver’s license. To receive the initial learner’s permit, you must follow certain steps. Here is a simple guide to getting a Washington learner’s permit:

Learner’s permit

The learner’s permit in Washington may only be issued to a driver who is at least 15 years old, and who is enrolled in a driver’s education course. Alternatively, if a driver chooses not to enroll in driver’s education, they may apply for a learner’s permit by being at least 15 years and six months old, and passing the written knowledge exam.

The instruction permit requires that drivers be accompanied at all times by a driver who has held a valid driver’s license for at least five years. Drivers with the learner’s permit must complete at least 50 hours of supervised training. At least ten of those hours must be performed at night. These hours may be recorded in the logbook provided by the state of Washington.

The learner’s permit must be held for at least six months before a driver, who is at least 16 years old and has completed the required 50 hours of practice, may apply for the Washington Intermediate license. The permit is valid for one year, and can be renewed twice.

How to apply

There are several ways to apply for the learner’s permit in the state of Washington. Those who are under 18 may pre-apply online, or they may complete a physical application at the local driver licensing office. In either case, these documents must be submitted with the application:

  • Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate or a U.S. passport

  • Completed parental authorization Form DLE-520-003

  • A printed waiver from the driver’s education program if you do not intend to take the written exam

  • Proof of social security number, such as a social security card or a W-2 form

They must also take a vision test, and pay the $25 application fee. Drivers will also have their photo taken at this time.

Passing the exam

The Washington learner’s permit exam covers all state-specific traffic laws, road signs, and other driver’s safety information. It consists of 25 questions, 20 of which must be answered correctly in order to pass. The Washington DOL provides a driver’s manual which includes all the information that student drivers need to pass the written exam. Additionally, the state provides an online practice exam that can be taken as many times as needed in order to gain the knowledge and confidence necessary to ace the exam.

If the driver fails the exam, they must wait for a short period before taking the exam again. Subsequent failures result in longer wait periods to give the driver the opportunity to study the material more thoroughly.

This article originally appeared on as How to Get a Washington Driver's Permit and was authored by Valerie Johnston.

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