Wisconsin Permit and Driver's License FAQ

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

What are the age requirements for getting started?

Wisconsin has instituted a three-step Graduated Driver’s Licensing Program (GDL) to better prepare teen drivers to drive safely with an unrestricted license. The three program steps and age requirements are:

  • Instruction (Learner’s) Permit – 15 ½ years old
  • Probationary Driver’s License – 16 years old
  • Unrestricted Driver’s License – 18 years old

What documents am I required to bring with me when applying for a license in Wisconsin?

  • Proof of name, birth date, residency and Social Security Number – here are acceptable documents
  • Form MV3001 – Driver License Application
  • Proof of enrollment in high school/equivalent program or high school diploma or equivalent
  • $35 for permit fee

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

You can apply in person at a DMV customer service center.

How can I contact my local office?

Visit https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/online-srvcs/find-dmv/default.aspx for office locations, hours and contact information. You can also call (608) 264-7447.

Do I have to take a Driver’s Ed Course?

Yes, Wisconsin requires all drivers under the age of 18 to complete a drivers ed course as part of its GDL program. The course should have 30 hours of classroom instruction, 6 hours of behind the wheel instruction and 6 hours of driving observation.

What if I am new to Wisconsin?

You can get a probationary license if you are 16 years old, have held a valid out-of-state license or permit for at least six months without any violations and have completed driver’s ed and behind-the-wheel driver training.

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Preparing for the WI Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

What subjects are commonly covered on the written test?

The written test contains questions drawn from the content of the Wisconsin Motorists’ Handbook. The questions cover traffic laws, rules of the road, road signs, safe driving methods, fuel efficient operation of motor vehicles, effects of alcohol and drugs on driving, yielding the right of way to pedestrians and more. Here are two examples of content from the manual that you could be asked questions about on the written test:

  • When preparing to make a right turn, check traffic to the rear, signal and then move into the travel lane farthest to the right
  • When driving, both hands should be on the steering wheel, except when making necessary adjustments to the driving controls. To help avoid injury if your vehicle’s air bag goes off, it is best to hold the steering wheel with your right hand at 3:00 and your left hand at 9:00

How is the test formatted?

The Wisconsin written test is multiple choice.

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

No, questions on the Wisconsin written test are taken from the state Motorists’ Handbook. They are not meant to “trick” you but rather to ensure you have the knowledge needed to drive safely. If you study the handbook, no question should appear “tricky.”

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

There are 50 questions on the test and you must answer at least 40 of them correctly to pass.

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

You should study the Wisconsin Motorists’ Handbook extensively. You can take practice tests to verify your knowledge and identify any weak areas that you need to study more.

Where can I get a free Wisconsin Driver’s Manual to study?

You can get a free manual here on this website.

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

When studying the Motorists’ Handbook pay careful attention to fuel efficient operation of a motor vehicle and to the effects of alcohol and drugs on driving. You should also try to memorize numerical data, such as measurements and distances. Finally, study road signs so that you can identify them and their meaning on site.

What should I do the night before the test?

Review the Wisconsin Motorists’ Handbook and take practice tests to build your confidence and ensure you have the knowledge to pass. If you find yourself missing questions centered on a particular subject, be sure to go back and devote additional study time to that subject in the manual.

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Taking the WI Permit Test?: Frequently Asked Questions

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

Contact your local DMV customer service center to see if they accept appointments. If they do, you should schedule one to shorten your wait time.

Where do I take the written test?

You will take the test at a local DMV customer service center.

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

  • Proof of name, birth date, residency and Social Security Number – here are acceptable documents
  • Form MV3001 – Driver License Application
  • Proof of enrollment in high school/equivalent program or high school diploma or equivalent
  • $35 for permit 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 $35 fee.

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

The written test contains 50 questions and you can miss as many as 10 and still pass. When taking the test you cannot receive help from anyone or use your cell phone.

What happens after I pass the written test?

You will receive your Instruction Permit and can begin supervised driving practice. You need to complete 30 hours of behind-the-wheel driving practice, with at least 10 of those hours coming at night.

What happens if I fail the written test?

You can retake the test as soon as the next business day.

How many times can I retake the written test?

You are allowed five attempts within a one-year period. After that, you wil have to get special DMV approval to take the test again.

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Preparing for the WI Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

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

Your Instruction Permit allows you to begin supervised driving practice with a qualified supervising driver. You need to complete 30 total hours of driving practice with at least 10 of those hours coming at night.

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

You can apply for your Probationary Driver’s License after you turn 16, have completed driver’s ed and have held your instruction permit for six months.

Can I drive anywhere in Wisconsin with my Learner’s Permit?

You can drive on any public road or street in Wisconsin as long as you are accompanied by a supervising driver.

Should I practice driving solely during the day?

No, you are required to complete at least 10 of your 30 supervised driving practice hours at night.

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 qualified supervising driver with at least two years of driving experience. Drivers who qualify as supervising drivers include:

  • Professional instructors age 19 and older
  • Parent, guardian or spouse age 19 or older
  • Any licensed driver age 21 or older who has written permission from your parent or legal guardian

What should I do if I have a lost Wisconsin Learner’s Permit?

Visit your local DMV customer service center to replace a lost or stolen permit. You will need a drive’s ed certificate of completion or Form MV3001 (Driver License Application) signed by a driving instructor.

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

To pass the test you need to be able to do all of the following: accelerate smoothly; use the gas pedal, brake, steering wheel, and other controls correctly; handle curves properly; handle intersections; make left and right turns properly; signal and change lanes carefully; and obey traffic signals and posted signs. The best way to ensure you can do all of these things is to get lots of driving practice.

Are there particular driving maneuvers I should practice?

Yes, you should practice turns, including two-point and three-point turnabouts; backing up in a straight line; left and right turns; parallel parking; parking on a hill; accelerating smoothly; and more.

How can I simulate the driving test?

You should practice common vehicle maneuvers such as parking, stopping, accelerating and turning. You should also practice driving in traffic where you need to follow at a safe distance, signal and use your vehicle’s mirrors. The test will be a combination of a maneuver course and driving on a public roadway. So you need to practice – and learn to excel – at both.

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Taking the WI Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule my driving test?

Where do I take the driving test?

You will take the test at a local DMV customer service center.

What should I bring to the driving test?

  • Form MV3001 – Driver License Application
  • Proof of name, birth date, residency and Social Security Number – here are acceptable documents
  • Wisconsin Graduated Driver Licensing Supervised Driving Log
  • Proof of school enrollment, diploma or GED
  • $28 for Probationary License fee

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 test you will be asked to complete various maneuvers as well as to drive on a public roadway. You will need to demonstrate good vehicle control and outstanding driving knowledge. Among other things, you may need to stop smoothly and at the right spot; back in a straight line; turn safely while backing; back into/out of a parking space; judge distance; maintain a safe distance from other cars; and communicate to other drivers by signaling.

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

Lack of practice and nerves are two big reasons why new drivers fail. It’s easy to lose focus and commit too many errors that lead to a failing score. Stay calm and be confident in your ability to drive – but not overconfident as this can lead to dangerous driving that would also result in you failing your test.

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

  • Speeding
  • Refusing to follow the examiner’s instruction
  • Not checking mirrors when changing lanes
  • Forgetting to signal for a turn
  • Following too closely

What happens if I fail the driving test?

You will be allowed to retake the test.

How soon can I retake the test if I failed?

The examiner will go over what you did wrong and then tell you when you can take the test again. You may have to wait anywhere from one day to two weeks to retest.

I’ve passed the road test, now what?

You will receive your Wisconsin Probationary Driver’s License.

What restrictions come with a Wisconsin license?

  • For the first nine months, you cannot have more than one passenger except for immediate family members and other qualified adults
  • For the first nine months, you cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless driving between home, school and work

After you hold your Probationary License for two years and turn 18, you can get your regular Wisconsin Driver’s License.

What are the insurance requirements for drivers in WI?

All Wisconsin drivers are required to have automobile insurance. Minimum coverage requirements are: $25,000 for injury or death of one person; $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people; and $10,000 for property damage.

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Renewing Your WI License: Frequently Asked Questions

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

You can renew your Wisconsin Driver’s License up to one year before it expires. The state will send you a renewal notice with instructions approximately 60 days before the expiration date, which is your birthday.

You can replace a lost or stolen license online, by mail or in person at a DMV customer service center.

Where can I renew my Wisconsin driver’s license?

You can renew your license in person at a DMV customer service center.

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

Yes, you must pass a vision test when renewing your license. The Wisconsin DMV’s vision standard is 20/100 or better in at least one eye and a 20 degree horizontal field of vision.

If your vision is worse than the above set standard, you will be issued a Certificate of Vision Examination and referred to a licensed vision specialist.


The Wisconsin DMV Practice Test — What You Need to Know

Let’s talk about why you need your learner’s permit. Freedom, independence, travel, work, school, and family are all great reasons to get your permit and get mobile.   But before you can experience all the benefits that come with a permit, you’ll need to pass the Wisconsin permit test.  The written permit test is administered by Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and has questions designed to evaluate your knowledge of important traffic laws, traffic and road signs, and safe driving practices.

Prepare at Your Own Pace With WI DMV Practice Tests

Unfortunately, statistics tell us that the majority of test-takers fail the written test, year after year. A failed test means having to not only retake the exam but in some cases paying a retesting fee.  With the right study tools and a little bit of effort, you can set yourself apart and pass the exam the first time.

You’ll find that we’ve put together a valuable list of study material to help you do just that.  Our interactive Wisconsin practice permit tests are a great way to get a feel for what the real test is like.  You’ll also find a copy of the official Wisconsin Driver’s Handbook if you need a quick reference.  Everything you need to get started is here.   Begin preparing for your Wisconsin permit test now!