Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Graduated driver license (GDL) - frequently asked questions

What is a graduated driver license (GDL)?

The GDL allows novice drivers (ages 15 1/2 to age 18) to gain knowledge and driving experience while under the supervision of an experienced mentor as they progress through the learning stages.

Is there a study guide for GDL?

You can use the online Motorists' Handbook as a study guide. You can download the driving log as well.

When can I get my temps (instruction permit)?

You are eligible for an instruction permit when you are 15 years and 6 months old or older.

What is required to get an instruction permit?

Complete an application for a license Form MV3001, pass the sign and knowledge test, and vision screening, provide proof of name and date of birth, proof of identity, proof of Wisconsin residency, proof of legal presence, and your Social Security number. If you are under 18 years old, you must be enrolled in, or have completed, driver education. You must also be enrolled in a school program or high school equivalency program, have graduated from high school or been granted a declaration of high school graduation equivalency, or be enrolled in a home-based private education program and cannot be identified as habitually truant. You must have an adult sponsor and pay the required driver licensing fees.

Where can I get an instruction permit?

You can get your temps (instruction permit) at any DMV service center, except renewal-only offices by paying the appropriate fee.

What are the restrictions on an instruction permit?

You must be accompanied by someone occupying the seat beside you who has at least two years licensed driving experience, presently holds a valid regular (non-probationary) license and is one of the following:

  • a qualified instructor age 19 or older, or
  • a parent, guardian or spouse, age 19 or older. In addition to the parent, guardian, or spouse, a member of your immediate family may occupy seats in the vehicle other than the front seat, or
  • a person other than a parent, legal guardian, or spouse who is age 21 or older. No other passengers are allowed. If you are under 18 years old, the licensed person accompanying you is required to have written authorization from your parent or legal guardian prior to the operation of the vehicle.

NOTE: If you will be operating a vehicle during hours of darkness, you must be accompanied by a qualified instructor or a licensed person at least 25 years of age who has at least two years of licensed driving experience occupying the seat beside you.

How long will my instruction permit be valid?

It will be valid for 12 months, but can be renewed for another year if you need additional time to practice or complete the requirements necessary to get a probationary license. Proof of enrollment or completion of a driver education course is needed to renew your instruction permit.

How long before I can I get my probationary driver's license?

You need to have held your instruction permit for at least six (6) months prior to applying for your probationary license.

What do I need to do to get my probationary license?

If you are under 18, you need to complete a driver education course, have an adult sponsor, and accumulate at least 30 hours of supervised driving experience, 10 of which must be during hours of darkness. In addition to those requirement, you will need to have held your instruction permit for at least six months, and have not committed any moving traffic violations within the six months immediately preceding applying for your probationary license, pass a road (skills) test and pay the required driver licensing fees. A physical exam is not required.

If I am under 18 years of age, do I need to have 30 hours of behind-the-wheel driving experience before I can get my probationary license?

Yes. Your parent, legal guardian or other sponsor will need to certify that you have had at least 30 hours of driving experience. Ten of the 30 hours must be spent driving during hours of darkness.

Is there a log sheet for me to keep track of my supervised driving hours? Where do I get it?

A driving log is included in the Wisconsin Motorists' Handbook.

What are the restrictions of a probationary license?

During the first nine months you have your probationary license, or until you turn 18, restrictions will limit who can ride with you, the hours you can drive by yourself, and late night/early morning driving. The restriction will state, "No passengers except immediate family, driving instructor, one other person. In addition, from midnight to 5 a.m. a parent, guardian, driving instructor or one other licensed person age 21 or older must be seated beside licensee, unless licensee is driving between his or her home, school, or work." Restrictions will be extended if you violate them, are convicted of a moving traffic violation, or your license is revoked or suspended for any reason.

Points assessed as a result of a conviction for a moving violation are doubled for second and subsequent convictions while holding an instruction permit or probationary license.

If I have a probationary license, how many of my friends can ride with me during daylight hours?

During the first nine months you have your probationary license, or until you turn 18, only one of your peers can ride with you from 5 a.m. until midnight. However, any number of your family members can also ride with you as can your spouse, a qualified instructor, or someone over 21 as long as they have a valid regular license and two years of licensed driving experience. After the restriction is removed from your license, there is no limit on how many friends can ride with you.

Can I drive alone and go wherever I want to go?

Yes, from 5 a.m. until midnight, you can drive alone and go anywhere you want.

Can I drive alone or go wherever I want between midnight and 5 a.m.?

During the first nine months you have your probationary license, or until you turn 18, if you are driving between home, school and/or work. If you are driving anywhere else, you must have one of the following with you:

  • A parent or legal guardian
  • A person who holds a valid regular license with two years licensed drive experience who is either a qualified instructor, a spouse age 19 or older, or a person age 21 or older.

After the restriction is removed from your license, you may drive wherever you wish any time during the day or night.

Who can ride with me at night?

From midnight to 5 a.m., unless you are driving between your home, school, or work, your parent/legal guardian or some other qualified licensed person must be with you. You can then also have any of your immediate family members, or one other person with you.

What are the driver education requirements?

Driver education requirements include a minimum of 30 hours of classroom time, a minimum of six hours of behind-the-wheel driver education training and six hours of observation time. Some driver education programs include additional hours.

Where can I take driver education?

Driver education is offered through private driver training schools and most high schools.

At what age does the driver education requirement no longer apply?

Once you turn 18, you may then take the knowledge and signs test and road test, and if successfully completed, be issued a Wisconsin driver license without being enrolled in a driver education program.

If I complete driver education in another state and I have a certificate of completion from that state, will Wisconsin accept that certificate?

Yes, you can use your certificate of completion from another state as long as the course consisted of both classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction.

Is there any parent/teen training material available either in print or on the Internet?

Yes, you can find much teen driver information online by doing a web search. The body of information and research continues to grow.

You can also find all Wisconsin DMV website teen driver information at the Teen Driver portal.

How old do I have to be before GDL doesn't apply to me?

GDL hours and passenger restrictions no longer apply once you turn 18. However, you will still be operating under a probationary license so points assessed for traffic convictions will double for every violation after your first.

Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service

Last modified: November 26, 2013
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