Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

The instruction permit, probationary license and regular license

Wisconsin’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) requirements for teens ages 15 to age 18.

Instruction permit

Anyone learning to drive a car or light truck (class D), motorcycle (class M) or commercial motor vehicle (classes A, B and C) must first obtain an instruction permit.  Permits are issued at Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) service centers located throughout the state.

For information on applying for an instruction permit and its restrictions, see: driver license instruction permit.

Probationary driver license

A probationary license is a driver license issued to a beginning driver, valid for operation according to the restrictions on the back.

A probationary license is issued for the time period ending two years from the applicant's next birthday. It is valid to operate automobiles, light trucks, mopeds and motorcycles (if the driver has a motorcycle endorsement). The DMV issues probationary licenses to:

  • new drivers.
  • persons with foreign or international licenses who pass the required tests.
  • Persons reinstating a revoked or canceled probationary license.
  • new residents under the age of 21 who hold a license expired for more than six months, or with less than three years of driving experience, or new residents holding an out-of-state license, but are unable to surrender it.

Persons who hold a probationary license are assessed double points for second and subsequent point convictions.

A probationary license differs from a regular license by the graduated license restrictions for drivers under 18 years old. A probationary license is not an instruction permit or learner's permit. It is valid for operation within and outside of Wisconsin.

An instruction permit and probationary driver  license will be suspended for six months if you receive 12 or more demerit points in 12 months.

For information on applying for a probationary license and its restrictions, see: Probationary driver license requirements.

Regular driver license

To get a regular license, you must:

  • be at least 19.
  • hold your probationary driver license until you complete your first renewal, generally two to three years.
  • wear your seat belt.
  • maintain absolute sobriety (no alcohol).

New residents at least 21 years old who hold a valid out-of-state license, not expired, for more than six months and have at least three years of driving experience may obtain a regular driver license.

There is no doubling of points if you have a regular driver license and receive a traffic ticket. However, your driver license can be suspended from two months to a year for certain violations.

GDL encourages parents and other adult sponsors to partner with you to help you learn the basics of safe driving.

In addition, approved driver education courses are offered at many high schools and licensed driver training schools.

Download a copy of the Wisconsin Motorists' Handbook) and driving log. You can also get the driving log from your driver education or driver training school instructor or at a DMV service center.

Questions? Contact us: Wisconsin DMV email service

Last modified: November 26, 2013

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