Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Probationary driver license requirements

Probationary driver license

A probationary license is a driver license issued to a new driver, regardless of age. It is valid for operation according to the restrictions on the back.

The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues a probationary license to new drivers, persons with a driver license from another country who pass the required tests, persons reinstating a revoked or canceled probationary license and new residents who surrender a license that is expired for more than six months, or who have less than three years of driving experience or who are under the age of 21.

The main difference between a probationary license and a regular license consists of the restrictions listed on the back. A probationary license is not an instruction permit or learner's permit. It is a valid driver license for operation within and outside of Wisconsin.

With a probationary license, demerit points double for moving traffic convictions after your first conviction. Your license will be suspended for six months if you accumulate 12 or more points within a 12-month period.

Probationary licenses are issued to expire two years from the applicant's next birthday. For example, if a new driver is 16 years old on the date they obtain their probationary license, the earliest that license would expire would be on their 19th birthday.

The expiration date of a license for a non-immigrant foreign visitor will depend on the applicant's length of authorized stay.

Probationary license requirements

Wisconsin residents UNDER 18 years of age may obtain a probationary driver license if they fulfill the following requirements:

In addition to the eligibility requirements listed above, you:

  • Must maintain absolute sobriety while driving.
  • Must wear your seat belt.

The following restrictions are in effect the first nine months and can be extended until you are 18:

  • You can drive alone, but you are limited to only one passenger other than your immediate family or a qualified adult.
  • No driving between midnight to 5 a.m., unless traveling between home and school or work.
  • The restrictions above can be extended if you get a traffic ticket, your probationary license is suspended or revoked or you are in violation of the above restrictions.

Wisconsin residents OVER 18 years of age are eligible for a probationary driver license if they fulfill the following requirements:

Visitors, students and members of the Armed Forces not wishing to establish Wisconsin residency

Visitors to Wisconsin (at least 16 years old) who do not plan to establish permanent residency, and members of the Armed Forces and their families living in Wisconsin but with permanent residence elsewhere, are not required to obtain a Wisconsin driver license. However, they must have a valid license from their home jurisdiction to operate a motor vehicle in Wisconsin.

If Wisconsin residency is established, the person must obtain a Wisconsin license within 60 days. Eligibility requirements are the same as those for a native Wisconsin resident.

Visitors and students from other countries

Visitors and students from out of the country who are in Wisconsin for more than twelve months and plan to operate a motor vehicle in Wisconsin, must obtain a Wisconsin license. Eligibility requirements are the same as those for a native Wisconsin resident.

Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service
Phone: (608) 266-2353

Last modified: August 30, 2011

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