How to Get a Driver’s License in Kentucky

While new adult residents to Kentucky can typically just transfer their driver’s licenses to Kentucky licenses as long as there are no legal impediments to doing so, it is quite different for a new Kentucky driver to get a license for the first time. This usually applies to Kentucky teens who are getting their first licenses, but it can also apply to Kentucky adults who have never been licensed previously.

Getting a new driver’s license in Kentucky is a multi-step process. There are three phases of it. Teens require parental permission on every step in the licensing process.

Step 1–The Learner’s Permit
Kentucky teens are eligible to apply for a learner’s driving permit at age 16. The teen and a parent or guardian must visit any of the Kentucky DMV locations around the state in person and must bring a certified copy of the teen’s birth certificate, the teen’s Social Security card, and a school attendance form.

The teen will then be given the written driver’s license test and an eye exam. It often helps to have studied for the exam beforehand and have taken at least one practice drivers exam before taking the real written one. Practice books and study guides are available at DMV locations. Once the written test and eye exams are passed, the teen will be issued a learner’s permit to drive. The license cost for a learner’s permit is only $12.

The learner’s permit allows a teen to drive only with another licensed driver age 21 or older in the car with him or her at all times and sitting in the front passenger seat. This gives the teen an opportunity to practice driving with an adult driver who has experience. The teen with the learner’s permit must log at least 60 hours of practice driving time, which includes at least 10 hours of nighttime driving practice, during the time he or she has the learner’s permit. Once the required number of hours of practice driving are completed, the teen will be permitted to get an intermediate license.

Step 2–The Intermediate License
Teens who are 16 1/2 years old and who have had their learner’s permit for at least six months can get an intermediate license. To get one, the teen must go with a parent or guardian to a local Driver Testing Center and take the driving portion of the driver exam. At the time the teen applies for the intermediate license, he or she must also bring proof of their 60 hours of practice driving with them. If the teen passes the driving portion of the exam, an intermediate license will be issued once the parent or guardian has signed the application form.

The intermediate license allows teens more freedom to drive than the learner’s permit, but there are still some restrictions that don’t accompany a full license. The intermediate license allows a teen to drive on their own, without someone over 21 in the car with them. However, they may not drive between 12 am and 6 am. These are the most dangerous hours for driving regardless of age, so young, inexperienced drivers are not allowed to put themselves in a potentially hazardous situation. Sometimes exceptions to this rule are granted for going to and from work, for school activities, and for medical reasons or family necessity.

The intermediate license also prohibits teens from driving with more than one non-family passenger under the age of 18 in the car with them. Kentucky teens also may not drive with more than one non-family passenger under age 18. The teen driver and all passengers must always wear seat belts while the car is in motion or engaged in the “drive” position on the gear shift. If a teen is convicted of a moving violation while using an intermediate license, he or she will lose the intermediate license, be demoted to holding a learner’s permit, and must start the six month learner’s permit period again before being allowed to get another intermediate license.

Step 3–The Full License
Kentucky teens become eligible to get a full Kentucky driver’s permit when they’re 17. This is an unrestricted license with full driving privileges. To get the license, the teen must have had his or her intermediate license for at least six months and have taken a certified driver education course either at school or at an independent driving instruction facility. If the teen doesn’t take a certified driver education course, then he or she cannot be granted a full license until age 18. The cost of a full driver’s license issued for the first time in Kentucky is $40, and $20 each time the license comes up for renewal. Renewal periods vary depending on how long someone has had their license.

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Kentucky DMV Practice Test – Quiz 1 (Signs)
Kentucky DMV Practice Test – Quiz 2 (Signs)
Kentucky DMV Practice Test – Quiz 3 (Rules)
Kentucky DMV Practice Test – Quiz 4 (Rules)
Kentucky DMV Practice Test – Quiz 5 (Rules)
Kentucky DMV Practice Test – Quiz 6 (Rules)
Kentucky DMV Practice Test – Quiz 7 (Rules)