How to Pass the District of Columbia Permit Test

washington-dc-road-signIf you want to become a fully licensed driver in Washington D.C., you will need to learn about the Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers (GRAD) program, a three-stage process that begins with getting your learner’s permit. The GRAD program exists to help you become comfortable with the rules of the road before you earn your unrestricted license.

In Washington D.C., the GRAD program consists of obtaining a:

  • Learner’s permit
  • Provisional license
  • Full license with restrictions

In this article, we will help you learn how to pass the Washington D.C. permit test and eventually go on to receive your full, unrestricted license.

Stage I: The Washington D.C. Learner’s Permit

When you are 16 years old, you can apply for a learner’s permit in Washington D.C. The permit will allow you to practice driving as long as you have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the seat next to you. To receive your permit, you must pass a written exam (also known as the permit test) that will check your knowledge of the rules of the road as well as various traffic signs and signals.

Study, Study, Study

If you want to do well on the exam, you must study as hard as you can. We provide a free copy of the Washington D.C. Driver’s Manual, or you can visit the Washington D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to receive a physical copy.

Take Practice Exams

If you want to make sure you don’t waste your time and money on a test you aren’t prepared for, consider taking some practice exams ahead of time. Our Washington D.C. practice permit test includes much of the same subject matter you will find on the actual test and is a great resource for learning.

Gather The Required Materials and Visit Your Local DMV Office

When you feel you are prepared to take the permit test, visit your local DMV service location and bring the following with you:

  • Proof of Washington D.C. residency
  • Birth certificate or other proof of name and date of birth
  • Social security card
  • A notarized parental consent form
  • $30 for testing and permit fees

Do Your Testing

After you pass your permit test, you will be asked to complete a vision test to show that you can see well enough to safely operate a vehicle.

Stage II: The Washington D.C. Provisional License

When you are 16 and a half years old, have had your learner’s permit for at least six months without an accident or traffic violation, and have completed 40 hours of practice driving under the supervision of your parent or guardian, you qualify to apply for your provisional license. This requires that you take a behind-the-wheel test.

When you are ready, visit your local DMV office and bring a few items along with you:

  • A form stating that you have completed your practice driving hours, signed by your parent or guardian
  • A registered vehicle to use for the test and proof of insurance
  • A photocopy of the driver’s license of the parent or guardian who supervised your practice
  • $30 for testing and license fees

When you pass your road test, you will receive your provisional license. This is like a regular license, but it has a few limitations:

  • You may not drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights or between midnight and 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights
  • In July and August, you may not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. regardless of the night
  • Aside from immediate family members, you may not drive with passengers aside from a licensed driver who is 21 or older and seated in the front seat
  • You may not drive without your seat belt, and you must make sure your passengers wear seat belts

Additionally, you must log at least 10 hours of nighttime practice driving under the supervision of a licensed driver age 21 or older while holding your provisional license.

Stage III: The Washington D.C. Driver’s License

When you are 17 years old, you have held your provisional license for at least six months, you have practiced 10 hours of supervised night driving and you haven’t received any traffic violations, you are eligible to apply for your full license. However, it’s important to note that this license still comes with some restrictions:

  • Other than immediate family members, you may not drive with more than two passengers under the age of 21
  • The night driving limitations you followed while holding a provisional license remain

To receive your full license, visit the DMV and bring along:

  • Proof of your 10 hours of night time driving practice
  • A photocopy of the driver’s license of the person who supervised your practice
  • $44 for license fees

When you turn 18, all restrictions will be removed and you will finally know the freedom of being a fully licensed driver.

Additional Information

To apply for a driver’s license or permit in Washington D.C., you must be free of all outstanding debts to the district.