A Teen’s Guide to Getting Your Driver’s License in Texas

Getting a driver’s license is a significant milestone in any teen’s life. But before celebrating by hitting the mall or your favorite drive-thru joint, you must understand Texas rules and regulations. All that legalese can be confusing, so we’ve taken out the jargon to create a simpler guide to getting your driver’s license.

Getting Your State of Texas Instruction Permit

As a teen, you must successfully complete two phases of driver education as part of the State of Texas Graduated Driver License Program. First, you’ll work toward the State of Texas Instruction Permit, commonly called a learner’s permit. You must be at least 15 with a completion certificate from an approved driver education course to qualify. Along with your application, you’ll present valid identification, like a passport, birth certificate, or your social security number, as well as a high school diploma or completion certification or proof that you’re enrolled in high school. A parent or guardian with custody must also sign off on the application. You’ll both sign a Zero Tolerance Law notification document to confirm that your permit will be revoked if any alcohol is detected in your system. Finally, you must pass a vision test and written exam. After satisfying these criteria, you’ll get your State of Texas Instruction Permit.

Driving With a State of Texas Instruction Permit

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Your instruction permit lets you practice driving with a licensed driver. This driver should be 21 or older with at least 12 months of driving experience. Your permit is valid until your next birthday plus one year. It cannot be renewed. You must hold your instruction permit for at least six months, without suspension or disqualification, before moving to the next phase. If suspended, you must serve your suspension and then wait another six months before moving to phase 2.

Driving With a Provisional License

Once you’ve driven safely on your instruction license for six months, you’re eligible for a provisional license. This new license will give you a little more freedom, but there are some restrictions. During the first six months, teens up to 18 years old can’t drive between midnight and 5 a.m. (unless it’s required for employment, a school-sanctioned activity, or for a medical emergency). In the first 12 months, these teens also can’t travel with more than one person under 21 in their cars except immediate family members. While these conditions are waived in time, there’s one constant rule that phase 2 drivers of all ages and experience must follow. You can’t use a cell phone or other wireless communication device, like a tablet, while you’re driving. Your provisional license converts to a full license on you 18th birthday or the next birthday after its date of issue, depending on how old you were when you received it.

You’ll Need Insurance

Under the Safety Responsibility Act, all Texan drivers need auto liability insurance to ensure that they can pay for any at-fault accidents. You must prove that you have at least 30/60/25 coverage if you cause an accident. The rules and regulations might seem confusing at first, but you must understand them to get your driver’s license.