District of Columbia Permit and Driver's License FAQ

  • Applying for Your DC License
  • Preparing for the DC Permit Test
  • Taking the DC Permit Test?
  • Preparing for the DC Driving Test
  • Taking the DC Driving Test
  • Renewing Your DC License
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Applying for Your DC License: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the age requirements for getting started?

Washington, D.C. has implemented a program it calls GRAD – Gradual Rearing of Adult Drivers, to help teen drivers gain the knowledge, experience and skills they need to hold a full, unrestricted driver’s license and enjoy all the privileges that come with that. GRAD’s age requirements and stages are:

  • 16 years old – Learner’s Permit
  • 16 ½ years old – Provisional Driver’s License
  • 17 years old – Full Driver’s License (with conditions until 18)

What documents am I required to bring with me when applying for a license in Washington, D.C.?

  • Proof of identity, birth date, residency and Social Security Number – here are acceptable documents
  • Form DMVR-4 – DC Driver License Application
  • Form DMV-PCF-01 – Parental Consent Form to Obtain Learner’s Permit
  • $20 for Learner’s Permit fee and $10 for written test fee

Where do I file my DC driver’s license application?

You can apply in person at a DC DMV office.

How can I contact my local office?

Visit https://dmv.dc.gov/page/all-DC-DMV-locations for office locations, hours and contact information.

Do I have to take a driver’s education course?

No, Washington, D.C. does not require teens to take a driver’s education course.

What if I am new to Washington D.C.?

You have 30 days to transfer a valid out-of-state license to Washington, D.C. To do so, visit a DC DMV office with proper identification and $47 for the license fee.

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Preparing for the DC Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

What subjects are commonly covered on the written test?

The Washington, D.C. written test checks your knowledge of traffic laws, rules of the road, motor vehicle laws and safe driving practices. Here are two examples of content from the manual that you could be asked questions about on the written test:

  • You must not engage in any vehicle race, speed exhibition, or speed contest including those commonly known as drag races on any public street, road or highway
  • When it comes to using chains, snow tires or radial tires, chains do the most to improve traction and stopping on ice and in snow

How is the test formatted?

The Washington, D.C. written test is multiple choice.

Are there a lot of “trick” questions on the written test?

No, all questions are taken from the Washington, D.C. Driver’s Manual and are intended to verify your knowledge of traffic laws and safe driving practices. No question is written with the intention of “tricking you.”

How many questions are on the test and how many do I need to answer correctly to pass?

There are 25 questions on the test and you must answer at least 20 of them correctly to pass.

What are the best ways to prepare for the written test?

We recommend studying the Washington, D.C. Driver’s Manual from cover to cover and then testing your knowledge by taking online practice tests. You can then use your test results to identify your strengths and weaknesses and better focus your study efforts in the future.

Where can I get a free Washington, D.C. Driver’s Manual to study?

We offer Driver’s Manuals for free here on this website.

How can I improve my odds for passing the first time I take the test?

It’s important to memorize road signs and their meanings so that you can identify them on sight. You should also try to memorize numerical data, such as measurements, lengths and distances. In addition, strive to build a solid foundation of knowledge in the areas of traffic law and safe driving practices.

What should I do the night before the test?

Take a practice test to ensure you have the knowledge to pass and then be sure to use the Driver’s Manual to review any questions that you missed. But don’t stay up too late reviewing, you should be sure to get a good night’s sleep so that you are at your best for the exam.

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Taking the DC Permit Test?: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to make an appointment to take the written test?

We recommend that you make an appointment if possible. Contact your local DC DMV office to see if appointments are accepted.

Where do I take the written test?

You will take the test at a local DC DMV office.

What do I need to bring when I sit for the written test?

You should bring:

  • Proof of identity, birth date, residency and Social Security Number – here are acceptable documents
  • Form DMVR-4 – DC Driver License Application
  • Form DMV-PCF-01 – Parental Consent Form to Obtain Learner’s Permit
  • $20 for Learner’s Permit fee and $10 for written test fee

Who should accompany me to the written test?

You should be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Do I need to pay a fee to take the written test?

Yes, you will need to pay a $20 written test fee as well as a $20 Learner’s Permit fee.

What should I expect when I sit for the written test?

The Washington, D.C. written knowledge test consists of 25 questions and you will need to answer at least 20 of them correctly to pass. When taking the test you cannot refer to the manual or use your cellphone.

What happens after I pass the written test?

You will receive your Learner’s Permit and can begin supervised driving practice. You will need to complete 40 hours of practice with a supervising driver age 21 or older.

What happens if I fail the written test?

You will be allowed to retake the test.

How soon can I retake the written test?

You must wait a minimum of 72 hours to retake the test.

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Preparing for the DC Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve passed the written permit test, what are the next steps?

Now that you have your Learner’s Permit you can being supervised driving practice with a licensed driver age 21 or older. You must complete 40 hours of supervised driving practice in all. You can only drive between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

How long after getting my Learner’s Permit can I apply for a license?

You can apply for your Provisional Driver’s License when you meet the following requirements: you are 16 ½ years old or older, have completed 40 hours of supervised driving practice and you have held your Learner’s Permit for at least six months.

Can I drive anywhere in Washington, D.C. with my Learner’s Permit?

Yes, you can drive on any public road or street in Washington, D.C., as long as you are accompanied by a supervising driver age 21 or over.

Should I practice driving solely during the day?

With your Learner’s Permit you are only eligible to drive between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Does anyone have to be in the car with me when I’m driving with my Learner’s Permit?

Yes, you must be accompanied by a supervising driver who is at least 21 years old.

What should I do if I have a lost Washington, D.C. Learner’s Permit?

You can replace a lost or stolen permit online or in person at a DC DMV office. The replacement fee is $20.

How can I be sure I’m prepared to ace the driving test?

The best thing you can do to ensure driving test success is to practice. You should practice both vehicle maneuvers, such as parking, turning and stopping as well as driving on public roadways. You should also continue to work on improving your driving knowledge by studying the state Driver’s Manual and applying the safe driving practices that you learn to your own driving.

Are there particular driving maneuvers I should practice?

Yes, you should practice:

  • Parking, including parking on a hill, parking in a space and parallel parking
  • Turning, including right and left turns along with two-point and three-point turnabouts
  • Backing up, both in a straight line and while turning
  • Stopping, including quick stops
  • Accelerating smoothly
  • Changing lanes
  • Signaling
  • And more

How can I simulate the driving test?

The driving test will include maneuvers, driving in traffic, your ability to use turn signals, safely controlling the vehicle and parallel parking so be sure to practice all of these things extensively.

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Taking the DC Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule my driving test?

You can schedule a test online or you can contact a local DC DMV office directly.

Where do I take the driving test?

You will take the test at a local DC DMV office.

What should I bring to the driving test?

  • Learner’s Permit
  • Form DMV-GRAD-HR40 – Certification of Eligibility for Provisional License
  • $10 for driving test fee and $20 for Provisional Driver’s License fee
  • Properly functioning vehicle
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance

Who should bring me to the driving test?

A licensed parent or legal guardian should bring you.

What will I be asked to do on the driving test?

During the driving test you examiner will direct you to complete a series of vehicle maneuvers, such as parking, turning and stopping. You will also be asked to drive in traffic on public roadways. You will need to display good vehicle control, good observational skills and good decision making to pass the test.

What are the most common reasons new drivers fail the driving test?

The most common reason is a lack of driving practice which leads the driver to commit too many mistakes and receive a failing score. Other reasons for failure include getting involved in an accident, refusing to perform a maneuver, not following the examiner’s directions and getting ticketed for a moving violation.

What are five mistakes I should be sure to avoid when taking the driving test?

  • Following the vehicle in front of you too closely
  • Failing to signal before a turn
  • Failing to check the blind spot before changing lanes
  • Using poor driving posture or hand position on the wheel
  • Not obeying a traffic sign or signal

What happens if I fail the driving test?

You will be allowed to retake the test.

Do I have to pay a fee to retake the test?

Yes, a $10 fee will be charged for each driving test.

I’ve passed the road test, now what?

You will receive your Washington, D.C., Provisional License.

What restrictions come with a Washington, D.C. license?

  • You can drive unsupervised from 6:01 a.m. to 10:59 p.m. Monday – Thursday
  • You can drive unsupervised from 6:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Friday – Sunday from September through June
  • You can drive unsupervised from 6:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. every day in July and August
  • You can only drive with a passenger who is 21 or older and has a valid driver’s license unless the passenger is an immediate family member
  • You must also complete 10 hours of supervised driving practice at night

You can receive your full license when you are 17, have held your Provisional License for at least six months and have no traffic violations for the past 12 months. Your full license will contain the following restrictions until you turn 18:

  • Only 2 or fewer passengers under age 21 unless they are siblings
  • Can drive from 6:01 a.m. to 10:59 p.m. Monday – Thursday and from 6:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Friday – Sunday in September through June
  • Can drive from 6:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. every day in July and August

What are the insurance requirements for drivers in DC?

Washington, D.C., requires vehicle owners to carry car insurance. Minimum requirements as set by DC law are:

  • Bodily injury liability – $25,000/$50,000
  • Property damage liability – $10,000
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury – $25,000/$50,000
  • Uninsured motorist property damage – $5,000
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Renewing Your DC License: Frequently Asked Questions

What if I need to renew my license or replace a lost/stolen license?

Washington, D.C., driver’s licenses must be renewed every eight years. You will receive a renewal notice approximately 60 days from the expiration date with renewal instructions. You may be able to renew online, by mail or in person.

You can replace a lost or stolen license online or in person at a DC DMV office. There is a $20 duplicate license fee.

Where can I renew my Washington, D.C. driver’s license?

You can renew your license online or in person at a DC DMV office. Once you renew online, the next renewal must be in person.

Will I be required to take a vision test when renewing my license?

Yes, when renewing in person you will need to pass a vision test.

During the test, you will be asked to look into a machine and read lines of characters to the DMV representative. This screening determines whether your eyesight and peripheral vision meet the District’s standards to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Minimum requirement for a non-restricted license is 20/40 with a 140 degree visual field.


The District of Columbia DMV Test — What You Need to Know

The day you become a licensed driver will be unforgettable. It’s an exciting moment as your driver’s license represents a new level of freedom and independence. But, before you can hit the open road, you will need to pass the Washington D.C. written knowledge test.

The permit test is administered by the Washington, D.C.’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and features a series of multiple choice questions.  You’ll face questions on the rules of the road, traffic laws, safety rules, and road signs.  The test is designed to help determine if you have the knowledge to be a safe and courteous driver.

Learn Faster With DC DMV Practice Permit Tests

Each year,  statistics reveal that the majority of people fail the permit test. This is why it’s so important to study with the right tools to pass the test. Otherwise, you will have to return to the DMV to retake it and in some cases pay a retest fee.  Doesn’t sound like fun to us.

Don’t worry we’re here to help.  Reduce your test-related stress and anxiety by using our powerful study resources.  On this page, you’ll find our interactive Washington DC practice permit test and the official District of Columbia’s Drivers Handbook.  Together they provide a great foundation to begin preparing for the exam.