Intermediate Driver's License
What to do before you get a license
Before getting a driver license, a teen must:
- be at least 16 years of age.
- pass a traffic safety education course.
- have an instruction permit for at least 6 months.
- get at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice (including 10 hours at night) with someone who has been licensed for 5 years or more. For help in supervising driving practice, use the:
- Intermediate License logbook to record behind-the-wheel driving practice.
- Washington Parent Guide to Teen Driving for tips on how to supervise driving practice.
- not have any traffic violations within 6 months of applying for the license.
- not have been convicted of any alcohol or drug offense while holding an instruction permit.
How to get a license
Once you have completed these steps, visit a driver licensing office and:
- present a signed certificate showing you have passed an approved traffic safety education course. If you don’t have a copy of your certificate, ask your driver training school for a copy before you apply for your license. If the school has closed, contact us at email@example.com or (360) 902-0110.
- have a parent or guardian grant permission and confirm your driving practice by signing the Parental Authorization Affidavit at the licensing office.
- pass a knowledge test (if you have not previously taken a knowledge test).
- pass a driving test.
- pass a vision screening.
- provide proof you are a Washington State resident. You may use your parent or guardian’s residence address, as long as they live in Washington State and can present a Washington State driver license, ID card, or other documents to prove residence.
- present proof of identity.
- provide your social security number, or sign a declaration if you don’t have one.
Special rules for teen drivers
When teens get a driver license, they must follow some special rules and restrictions. These rules are in place to help protect teen drivers from accidents and help them develop and improve skills in the safest way.
If you are under 18, you will be issued an intermediate driver license and must follow these special rules:
- For the first 6 months, you cannot drive with passengers under the age of 20 unless they are members of your immediate family (such as a spouse, child, stepchild, or siblings, both by birth and marriage).
- For the next 6 months you may not carry more than 3 passengers who are under 20 years old who are not members of your immediate family.
- For the first 12 months, you cannot drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you are with a licensed driver age 25 or older. The only exception to this rule is if you drive for agricultural purposes, meaning you transport farm products or supplies under the direction of a farmer (See RCW 46.20.070).
After 1 year of following these rules and driving without a collision or traffic citation, you can drive without limitations to the time of day or the age and number of your passengers.
When you turn 18, these special rules no longer apply and your intermediate driver license automatically becomes a regular license.
What if I get a traffic citation or violate these special rules?
- If you violate the special rules for teens, commit any other driving violation, or are in a collision, you will be sent a warning letter by the Department of Licensing.
- If you commit 2 driving violations, you will be sent a letter that suspends your driving privileges for 6 months or until age 18, whichever is shorter.
- If you commit 3 driving violations, your license will be suspended until age 18.
- Your parents will receive a copy of any warning or suspension letter sent to you.
Once you have a year of driving safely without a driving violation or accident, the passenger and nighttime driving restrictions expire and will not be reinstated. However, if you are under 18 you are still subject to receiving the warning letter and license suspension penalties.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to get a new license when I turn 18?
No. When a driver reaches age 18, the intermediate driver license automatically becomes a regular driver license and the special rules no longer apply.
How do police enforce the rules and restrictions on teen drivers?
Police enforce the restrictions of an intermediate driver license as a “secondary action.” This means that if a teen driver is stopped for a traffic offense, the officer can cite the driver for any violations of intermediate license restrictions.
If I have a drug or alcohol-related offense or Minor in Possession (MIP), can I get my intermediate license?
You cannot get a driver license until you are 18 years old if you are convicted of one of the following offenses while you have an instruction permit:
- Driving under the influence (RCW 46.61.502)
- Physical control of vehicle under the influence (RCW 46.61.504)
- Driver under 21 consuming alcohol (RCW 46.61.503)
- Alcohol or drug violations (RCW 46.20.265)
If I have a license from another state, do the special rules of an intermediate license apply to me?
Yes. A teen with a valid out-of-state license must get an intermediate license and meet all the same requirements.