TX Graduated Driver License Program

The Texas Graduated Driver License (GDL) program helps teens work toward a full driver license in stages. The program is designed to produce safer teen drivers by gradually building driving experience and minimizing teen driver exposure to high crash risk situations. See details on the timeline and steps to getting a driver license in Texas below.

AGE 14 Begin Driver Ed Note: Even if you complete drivers ed, you still can't apply for a Learner Permit until age 15
AGE 15 Phase I: Apply for a Learner Permit Expires after 6 months or on 16th birthday (whichever comes first)
AGE 16 Phase II: Apply for a Provisional (Intermediate) License Expires on 18th birthday
AGE 18+ Phase III: Apply for Full License Expires every 6 years


The GDL process at a glance

How to Apply for a TX Teen Driver's License

How to Apply for a Texas Teen
Driver's License

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Phase I: Learner License

Individuals must hold a valid Texas learner license or “instruction permit” for a minimum of 6 months or until their 18th birthday, whichever comes first. A learner license has a vertical layout and lets a new driver practice driving before obtaining a provisional license by requiring a fully licensed adult (age 21 or older) to occupy the front seat at all times when driving. Teens may apply for a Texas student learner license at age 15 and once they have completed the required classroom hours of driver education.

As of March 15, 2017, all new drivers under the age of 25 must complete a certified driver education course and receive a Texas Driver Education Certificate (DE-964 or DE-964E). Teen driver education programs are available at driver training schools and public high schools across the state. Parent-taught driver education (PTDE) courses are also accepted. Individual may start the classroom phase of driver education at 14 years old.

Teens will be granted a Texas learner license once they:

  • are between 15-18 years old
  • have completed the classroom portion of driver education
  • have taken and passed a written permit test
  • have passed a vision exam

Note: If a learner license is suspended during Phase I, the initial six-month period increases by the number of days of the suspension since the license is considered invalid during that time.

To apply for a student learner license in Texas, you must do so in person at a driver license office and bring the required documents and fees. Here’s a checklist of what you need to bring with you to get your learner license:

  • Proof of parental consent. A parent or legal guardian if under the age of 18.

  • Proof of identification. One primary identification document (valid U.S. passport, Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization, etc.) OR two secondary identification documents (birth certificate, Certificate of Report of Birth, certified copy of a court order with name and date of birth). You may also bring one secondary identification document and two supporting identification documents (social security card, W2 or 1099, school records, U.S. military dependent ID card, voter registration card, marriage license, pilot license, concealed handgun license, etc.). See all accepted ID documents.

  • Proof of social security. One primary identification document (Social Security Card, W-2, SSA-1099 Form, a non-SSA-1099 form or a pay stub with the applicant's name and SSN on it). A military ID (must contain applicant’s SSN), Certificate of release or Discharge of Active Duty (DD-214), certified college/university transcript designating number as SSN, health insurance card, Veteran's Administration card or pilot license with identifiable SSN may be also accepted. See all accepted social security documents here.

  • Proof of citizenship. For U.S. citizens: a passport, birth certificate, Certificate of Report of Birth, Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization or U.S. Citizen ID Card. For U.S. nationals, lawful permanent residents, refugees and asylees: a permanent resident ID card, a U.S. passport, a foreign passport with attached temporary I-551, a refugee travel document, etc. Temporary residents may also apply for a license with the appropriate documentation. See all accepted citizenship or lawful presence ID documents here.

  • Proof of residency. Two residency documents containing the applicant’s name and address verifying that they have lived in Texas for at least 30 days (current deed, mortgage, mortgage statement, Texas voter registration card, vehicle registration or title, concealed handgun license or license to carry, utility bill, selective service card, health or auto insurance card, high school transcript, W-2 or 1099, bank statement, etc.) See all accepted residency documents here.

  • Proof of insurance. If the applicant owns a car, proof of liability insurance and Texas registration is required. If not, you must submit a statement affirming that the applicant does not own a motor vehicle.

  • Proof of education. If still in school, a completed Verification of Enrollment and Attendance (VOE). If graduated, a high school diploma or GED.

  • Certificate of driver education. A signed, original form to verify the required classroom hours of driver education has been satisfied. Forms are available from the driving instructor or in the PTDE packet.

  • Application. A completed driver license application form (also available at any driver license office).

  • Fee. $16 (permit expires when applicant turns 18)

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Phase II: Provisional (Intermediate) License

A “provisional” or intermediate license also has a vertical layout and expires when the driver turns 18. This second phase of the GDL Program allows teen drivers under the age of 18 to operate a vehicle without a licensed adult present, but places some restrictions on their driving privileges.

Teens with a provisional license may not drive a car when there is more than one passenger in the vehicle under the age of 21 who is not a family member. Intermediate drivers also may not drive between midnight and 5:00 a.m. unless it is necessary for work, to attend a school-related activity or in the event of a medical emergency. Lastly, all drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cellphone, smartphone or any other wireless communication device (even hands-free devices), except in the event of an emergency.

Texas teens may “graduate” to a provisional license once they:

  • are between 16-18 years old
  • have held a learner license for at least 6 months
  • have completed both the classroom and behind-the-wheel portions of driver education
  • have completed the Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) course
  • have taken and passed a driving test (if younger than 18 years old)

To apply for an intermediate license in Texas, you must do so in person at a driver license office and bring the required documents. Here’s a checklist of what you need to bring with you to the driver license office:

  • Texas Learner License. If the student was previously licensed (including a learner license) in another state, the out-of-state license must be surrendered, or a Texas Department of Public Safety affidavit must be executed certifying the out of state license has been lost, stolen or expired.

  • Proof of education. If still in school, a completed Verification of Enrollment and Attendance (VOE). If graduated, a high school diploma or GED.

  • Certificate of driver education. A signed, original DE-964 form to verify the required behind-the-wheel hours of driver education has been satisfied. Forms are available from the driving instructor or in the PTDE packet.

  • Certificate of ITD course. Proof of completion of a mandatory free 1-2 hour safety course - either Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ages 15-17) or Impact Texas Young Drivers (ages 18-24). The driving skills exam must be passed within 90 days from when the ITD certificate was awarded or else the student must take the course again. Courses are available through the Impact Texas Drivers website.

  • Proof of insurance. If the applicant owns a car, proof of liability insurance and Texas registration is required during the driving test. If not, you must submit a statement affirming that the applicant does not own a motor vehicle.

  • Application. A completed application form for renewal/replacement/change of a Texas driver license or ID card (also available at any driver license office).

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Phase III: Full License

After a teen has completed phases I and II of the GDL program, and they’ve had their 18th birthday, they may apply for a full driver license. Texas offers four different categories, or “classes,” of licenses:

  • Class A. Allows you to drive vehicles weighing over 26,001 lbs. with towed vehicles weighing more than 10,000 lbs.
  • Class B. Allows you to drive vehicles weighing 26,001 lbs. or more with towed vehicles weighing more than 10,000 lbs., as well as a bus with 24 passengers or more.
  • Class C. Allows you to drive vehicles weighing 26,000 lbs. or less.
  • Class M. Allows you to drive a motorcycle or moped.

Most cars and trucks weigh under 5,000 lbs., so a majority of Texas drivers have a Class C license.

To apply for a full Class C license in Texas, applicants must be at least 18 years old and bring the following documents to a local driver license office:

  • Texas Provisional License. If the student was previously licensed (including a provisional license) in another state, the out-of-state license must be surrendered, or a Texas Department of Public Safety affidavit must be executed certifying the out of state license has been lost, stolen or expired.

  • Application. A completed DL-14a application form for a Texas driver license or identification card (also available at any driver license office).

  • Proof of social security. One primary identification document (Social Security Card, W-2, SSA-1099 Form, a non-SSA-1099 form or a pay stub with the applicant's name and SSN on it). A military ID (must contain applicant’s SSN), Certificate of release or Discharge of Active Duty (DD-214), certified college/university transcript designating number as SSN, health insurance card, Veteran's Administration card or pilot license with identifiable SSN may be also accepted. See all accepted social security documents here.

  • Proof of insurance. If the applicant owns a car, proof of liability insurance and Texas registration is required during the driving test. If not, you must submit a statement affirming that the applicant does not own a motor vehicle.

  • Fee. $25 (for a first-time non-commercial Class A license; expires every 6 years).

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Minor Restricted Driver License (Hardship License)

Under special circumstances, teens may be allowed to skip the GDL program and become fully licensed at age 15 if they meet certain requirements and prove a necessity to drive. To be granted a hardship license in Texas, applicants must:

  • be at least 15 years old
  • complete the mandatory driver education courses
  • pass the knowledge, vision and driving tests
  • meet any other licensing requirements
  • provide supporting documentation proving a need based on illness of a family member or enrollment in a VOE program that requires the applicant to be licensed to participate

MRDL applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and expire on the applicant’s next birthday. An applicant and their parent, legal guardian or employer must file an Application for Texas Hardship Driver License (Form DL-77) with their local driver license office.

Texas Drivers Education & Distracted Driving Prevention

In Texas, when an applicant between 15 and 24 years old is applying for a first-time license, they are required to take a driver education course AND participate in an Impact Texas Drivers (ITD) program.

The Texas Department of Public Safety mandates that all certified teen driver education courses include:

  • At least 32 hours of classroom instruction (completed over at least 16 days)
  • 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training (including at least 7 hours of in-car observation and 10 hours of night driving)

Where can I take drivers education?

Teens can complete their driver ed course requirement in one of three ways:

  • Taking a traditional course offered by a licensed driver training school (online or in-person)
  • At your local high school
  • Through a parent-taught driver education (PTDE) program

Eligibility and requirements for the parent-taught driver education programs are available on the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation website.

Infographic courtesy of AAA

Where can I complete an ITD course?

In addition to completing driver education, all new Texas drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 must complete an educational program to help understand the dangers of distracted driving. According to video data analysis, distraction is a key factor in 58 percent of moderate-to-severe crashes involving teen drivers.

The most common forms of distraction resulting in the most teen driver crashes include:

  • Interacting with one or more passengers (15 percent)
  • Cell phone use (12 percent)
  • Looking at something in the vehicle (10 percent)
  • Looking at something outside the vehicle (9 percent)
  • Singing/moving to music (8 percent)
  • Grooming (6 percent)
  • Reaching for an object (6 percent)

Impact Texas Driver (ITD) courses are aimed at helping curb the dangers of distracted driving through education. They are divided into two categories, depending on age:

  • Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD). A free 2-hour video for applicants between 15 and 17 years old who have already completed a driver education course.
  • Impact Texas Young Drivers (ITYD). A free 1-hour video for applicants 18 to 24 years old that must be viewed before taking a driver skills exam.

Upon completion of the video, an ITTD or ITYD certificate will be emailed to the applicant. Print out the certificate and bring it to the DMV during the driving skills test within 90 days of completion or you will have to take the program over again.

To register for an ITD program, visit the state's Impact Texas Drivers website.

Help Make Houston a Safer Place to Live and Drive

With great power comes great responsibility. Driving is a huge responsibility and should be taken seriously - whether it’s your first time behind-the-wheel or you’re an experienced driver with watchful eyes in the backseat. Do you part to help make Texas a safer place to live. Drive safe Houston!



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