The Tennessee Department of Safety is responsible for driver license issuance to all Tennessee residents 18 years of age or older. Those under 18 must either have a learner permit for at least six months or have been licensed in another state for at least 90 days. New residents with a non-expired license need only take a vision test while all others are required to take vision, written and road tests for a license.
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New Tennessee Drivers License
Who Needs a License?
All residents who wish to operate a vehicle on roadways for personal, recreational or commercial use must first obtain the correct license at any Driver’s License Service Center. New residents must also apply for a license in the state.
Which License is for you?
Teen drivers under the age of 18 must proceed through the graduated license program which will include a learner’s permit, intermediate license and an intermediate unrestricted license. All other adult drivers can chose from the follow license programs:
- A Class D license is issued to all adult drivers wishing to operate a personal vehicle on roadways. Your class D license may also have a hyphenated Class F which will allow you to operate a non-commercial vehicle for an income.
- Class A, B and C commercial licenses are for anyone wishing to operate a vehicle as part of a job or for a career.
- Class M licenses allow motorcycle drivers to legally drive on roadways.
- Class H- a hardship license issued to those minors qualifying to be licensed early for specific reasons.
What are the Requirements for getting a License?
You must bring all of the required documents to the DLSC on the day of application and each document must be from the approved list and the original. The list of approved documents can be found in your driver’s handbook or online at the DLS website. Documents required will prove:
- Two proofs of identity- one from the primary and one from the secondary list.
- Two proofs of residency in the state.
- Your social security card for signature verification or an approved alternative.
- One proof of citizenship or legal presence in the US.
There are specific requirements in addition for minor drivers that include:
- Proof of school enrollment with the minimum grade point average or proof of graduation.
- Completed drivers log showing the correct amount of practice time logged and signed by a parent or guardian.
- If you are under 18, a parent signed teen affidavit of financial responsibility is also required.
A valid permit and the appropriate amount for licensing fees in check, cash or money order form are also required for all new drivers.
What Tests do I need to get a License?
- A standard vision screening is given to all applicants for a license.
- A Class D knowledge test is required and will be administered at several stages to minors under 18 during the graduated license process. You must pass the computerized test by correctly answering 24 out of 30 questions to pass.
- A road skills test done by appointment only will be administered after the vision and written tests have been passed. Your examiner will grade your ability to obey traffic laws and control the vehicle.
Taking a Drivers Education Course
Driver’s education is not a requirement in the state for licensing process
Preparing for the Written Test
You can prepare for your test by making a study plan and obtaining materials that will assure you pass. Materials will include your driver’s handbook, cheat sheets Dmvcheatsheets.com and articles with helpful tips and how-to information. In addition, take practice tests to assure that you’re ready to pass the test on the first try and avoid failure delays and fees.
Scheduling an Appointment
You must schedule an appointment for the road skills test in advance; all other items are on a walk in basis only. The exception will be special circumstances needing an oral knowledge test.
What to Bring on Test Day
On test day you will need to bring your approved documents required for licensing including two proofs of identity and residency, one proof of citizenship or lawful presence in the US and your social security card. You may bring an alternative for your social security card off the approved list. All document lists can be found in your driver’s handbook or online at the DMV website.
Minor drivers must also bring a signed teen affidavit of financial responsibility and proof of driving time with a completed driver’s log. The log must also be signed by a parent or guardian. In addition proof of school enrollment with required grade point average or a diploma must be brought on test day.
For the road test you must bring a vehicle that can pass the safety inspections and its proof of insurance and registration.
Costs of a Drivers Test
Your license cost will include the testing fees necessary to take all of your license exams and may include:
- A Class D license is $19.50 for five years or a Class D-F license will be $22.00.
- An $8 fee is added for minors that are graduating to a Class D license.
Taking the Written Test
The written knowledge test is broken into four categories of which you find questions and includes:
- ¼ of the test will concern traffic signs and signals
- ¼ will address safe driving techniques
- ¼ will be on the rules of the road you must know
- ¼ on drugs, alcohol and driving in the state
The tests are administered on computers and will consist of 30 multiple choice questions in which you must correctly answer 24 to pass. If you fail the test you must wait 7 days to retest and pay a $2 application fee each time you retake so it is important to study the learning materials available to you before you attempt the exam.
Learning materials will include your Drivers Handbook, cheat sheet and practice tests found at Dmvcheatsheets.com and excellent articles full of tips and advice on testing. Make a study plan and stick to it if you wish to pass.
Taking the Driving Test
Road tests are given by appointment only at the DLSC office and you may not take the test until you have passed the vision screening and written test. You must supply a vehicle for the test as well as proper registration and proof of insurance for that vehicle. The vehicle will be subjected to a safety test, checking your safety equipments condition including such items as safety belts and mirrors. Your vehicle must pass to take the test. On the day of testing be prepared to show you valid learners permit as well.
The test begins the moment you and the instructor are seated in the vehicle and you be graded on all aspects of driving from preparing to move the vehicle, your control over the car and your willingness to obey state traffic laws. Be sure to brush up on your knowledge before testing as disobeying any traffic law is an automatic failure. You may receive a total of six errors before you will fail.
Renewing your Tennessee Drivers License
Who needs to renew their license?
All currently licensed drivers wishing to continue operating a motor vehicle on roadways must renew their license. Your license is valid for five years, expiring on your birthday and you must renew within 30 of expiration of be subject to late fees in addition to renewal costs.
How do I renew my Tennessee License?
Your may be eligible to renew your license in one of three ways depending on your circumstances. Your renewal notice will explain which of these three options you may chose to use:
- Renewal in person done at your local DMV branch office
- Renewal by mail
- Online renewal located on the DMV website
What tests do I need to take to renew?
Your renewal reminder will inform you if you must take any tests for your license at which point you will be required to renew in person. An expired license over 6 months may be subjected to all three tests at the time of renewal. The tests include a vision screening, written test and road skills tests. Most often drivers are asked to retake a vision screening.
Preparing to renew my TN license
Read your renewal notice carefully for your instructions. If you must renew in person be prepared to present identification, usually in the form of your current license and one proof of residency. If the DLSC cannot locate your social security number on file, you may be asked to bring your card as well.
Online renewals must have their current license, social security number and a credit or debit card handy while completing the process.
Mail in renewals must fill out the form enclosed in your renewal reminder and send along with a check or money order only for the renewal fees.
What is the cost to renew my license?
Your renew cost will be $19.50 for a regular license or $22 if you have a For Hire endorsement. In addition if this renewal is your first regular license as part of the graduated program there will be an additional $8 fee. A $5 late fee will apply after your license has expired for 30 days and doubles to $10 after six months.
Steps to renew your license
The steps vary depending on how you are renewing your license. It begins with reading over your reminder notice for instructions. If you may renew online simple visit the DMV website and follow the prompts to renew. Mail in renewals must fill out the form and mail it back to listed address along with a check for the renewal fee amount.
Those applying in person must gather what proofs or documents the DMV has requested and visit a DLSC branch office. If you are required to take any tests they will be administered to you during the renewal process. A new photo may also be taken. You can pay your renewal fees by check, cash or money order to complete the process.
Getting a Tennessee Learners Permit
Who needs a learners permit?
New teen drivers under the age of 15 must first obtain a learner’s permit Dmvcheatsheets.com as the first step in the graduated license program. All new drivers must hold a learners permit for the minimum required time for their age group.
Requirements for getting a learners permit
In order to receive a learner’s permit you must be at least 15 years of age and provide the following documentation:
- One primary and one secondary proof of identification showing your full legal name and date of birth.
- Proof that you are a US citizen or are legally allowed to live in the US.
- A social security number or approved alternative.
*Two proofs that you legal reside in the state full time.
You may acquire a list of approved documents from the DMV or online at the DLSC website. All applicants must pass a vision screening and Class D driver’s knowledge test and pay the required fee in order to complete the process. Minors under the age of 18 must also supply:
- Proof of attendance in school with minimum grade point average or a diploma or equivalent proving completion.
- A teen affidavit of financial responsibility signed by a parent or guardian.
Driving with a TN learners permit
Minor drivers under the age of 18 must practice with a learners permit for six months before applying for their first license. During this time the new driver must be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21 in the front seat and may drive between the hours of 6 am and 10 pm. You will be required to fulfill the required practice time of 50 hours behind the wheel with 10 applied during nighttime hours. While driving, your parent or guardian must complete the drivers log and sign for each time of practice.
Use the testing guide listed in your driver’s handbook to practice the aspects of driving you must master in order to pass the road test.
Cost of a learners permit
If over 18 your permit fee will be $5.50 and minors under 18 will cost $10.50.
Steps to getting a Tennessee learners permit
You must apply for a learners permit in person at your DLSC office and complete the following steps:
- Submit your application along with required proofs. These will include two proofs of identity and residency in the state, one proof of citizenship or lawful presence and your social security card or approved alternative. All approved proofs are listed in the driver’s handbook and online at the DMV website.
- Minors will also submit a teen driving affidavit signed by a parent or legal guardian and proof of either school enrollment with minimum grade point average or a diploma.
- Take the vision test and have your photo taken.
- Take the written test by computer and pass with 24 out of 30 questions answered correctly.
- Pay the learners permit fees by check, cash or money order to complete the process.