washington-road-signIf you’re ready to begin preparing for your permit test but don’t know where to begin, we can help. Getting your permit can seem complicated at first, but our easy-to-follow guide will help you every step of the way, from earning your permit to eventually becoming a fully licensed driver.

Washington, like most other states, requires that all teen drivers complete a Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL), a multi-stage process that allows teen drivers to learn crucial driving skills while remaining under the supervision of a licensed driver. GDL programs have been shown to reduce traffic collisions caused by inexperienced young drivers.

The Washington GDL process includes three different stages:

  • Instruction Permit
  • Intermediate License
  • Full License

On this page, we will teach you how to pass the Washington permit test and move forward through each stage of the GDL process.

Instruction Permit

When you are 15 years old, you can apply for your Instruction Permit (or learner’s permit) in the state of Washington, but you must first be enrolled in driver’s education. After you enroll in driver’s education, you will have 10 days to apply for your permit, which is required to complete the behind-the-wheel portion of your course.

If you don’t want to take driver’s education at 15, you can wait until you are 15 and a half years old to apply for your permit. This will require that you pass a written knowledge exam (or permit test), which will check your awareness of traffic laws and signs. Those enrolled in driver’s education can skip this step.

Note: Even if you skip driver’s education initially, you will still have to take it before earning your license.

Study for the Test

If you choose to skip driver’s education and do your testing as a part of your application process, you must study hard on your own. We offer a free copy of the Washington Driver Guide for you to use. Be sure to read each section carefully, devoting extra time to any subjects you don’t fully understand.

Don’t Miss out on Practice Tests

Practice tests are a wonderful resource for study. Our Washington practice permit test will help you prepare for the real test by exposing you to similar subject matter. After you pass it a few times, you should be prepared to try the real thing.

Visit the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL)

When you feel prepared, visit the DOL offices, bringing along:

  • Proof of identity (U.S. passport, birth certificate or other approved documents).
  • Proof of enrollment in driver’s education if required. Many schools will submit this proof directly to the DOL electronically, but if not, you will need to bring in a signed form.
  • Your Parental Authorization Affidavit (Form DLE-520-003).
  • Documents to prove your parent’s identity.
  • $25 in fees.

At this point, you will be given the permit test if you are not enrolled in driver’s education. Stay calm and do your best. You have studied hard, and now it’s your time to shine! When you pass, you will be given a simple vision test, and your picture will be taken for your license.

If you are already enrolled in driver’s education, you will simply pay your fees, pass your vision test and be given your permit.

Practice, Practice, Practice

While holding your Instruction Permit, you must complete at least 50 hours of practice driving under the supervision of a licensed driver who has at least five years of driving experience. You must also sign up for driver’s education if you haven’t already.

Intermediate License

When you are 16 years old, and you have completed all of the practice-driving requirements, you can apply for your Intermediate License. However, first you must pass a behind-the-wheel road test, which will check how well you maintain control of the vehicle and observe traffic law. You can complete your road test at any DOL testing location.

When you do, visit the DOL offices, bringing along:

  • Your Instruction Permit.
  • Your Social Security number.
  • A signed certificate that shows you completed driver’s education.
  • A signed Parental Authorization Affidavit (Form DLE-520-003). If your parent or guardian cannot be there in person to sign, you must have the form notarized.
  • $80 in fees.

Your Intermediate License comes with a few restrictions. Unless supervised by a licensed driver age 25 or older, you may not:

  • Drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving for farm-work purposes.
  • Drive with an unrelated passenger under the age of 20 for the first six months.
  • Drive with more than three unrelated passengers under the age of 20 for the second six months.
  • Use any wireless device while driving, including hands-free devices.

Driver’s License

When you are 18 years old and you haven’t accumulated any traffic violations, the restrictions will be removed from your license.

Congratulations! You may now enjoy full driving privileges.

Additional Information

After passing your road test, you will have the option of applying for your Intermediate License online. You will need your Instruction Permit, the last four digits of your Social Security number, a credit or debit card, a printer and access to email. If you choose this option, be sure to have your parent or guardian present so he or she can answer some questions regarding your required practice driving.