The Graduated Licensing program in Pennsylvania is meant to cut down on teen driving fatalities and includes a learner permit, a junior license and a full unrestricted senior license. You must complete the GDL according to the state rules if you are less than 18 years old and want to drive in the state.
Under 18 Driving Permits
Learner Permit, 16 years old
In order to get a full license you need to first apply for a Learner Permit no earlier than 16 years old. To get this permit you will need to acquire the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual from a local Driver License Center or from online. Pennsylvania is one of the few states that actually require a medical certificate from a physician to state you are capable of driving. This is Form DL-180 Medical Qualification Certificate that must be filled out and presented at the Driver License center upon application.
Attend the Driver License center and present your medical certificate, your parent or guardian authorization form DL-180TD, proof of identity and residency, a social security card and the fee for the license. You will then be required to take a vision test and knowledge test before gaining your first driver permit.
During your Learner Permit phase you will only be allowed to drive with another licensed adult over 21 years of age and passengers that are immediate family only. You must hold this license for 6 months and complete 65 hours of driving with 10 being at night and 5 during inclement weather and it must be witnessed by a parent or guardian.
Provisional License, 16 ½ years old
The Provisional license is available after you have held your learner permit for at least six months, and completed the necessary 65 hours of behind-the-wheel driving with a notarized certificate if they do not appear for your provisional application procedure. You will also need to book a road skills exam and pass it in order to receive your Provisional License.
The Provisional license allows you to drive unsupervised with some restrictions. From 11pm to 5am you must drive with a supervisory licensed adult or a spouse who is at least 18 years old. You can drive unsupervised during this time if it is for work or a volunteer service; however you will need to have your usual schedule from your supervisor on a notarized letter with you if you are pulled over. Lastly, during the first six months of this license you can carry only 1 passenger younger than 18 years old who is not an immediate family member. After six months of holding this license you can carry 3 passengers younger than 18 years old who are not immediate family members. Or if you are driving with a parent or guardian, you can carry the number of passengers that can wear safety belts in the vehicle.
Full License, 17 ½ years old
If you also complete a driver’s education course that is approved by the PennDOT you can receive your full license at just 17 and a half years old as long as you have also held your provisional license for a year. If you have not completed a driver’s education course you will not receive your full license until 18 years old. There are no restrictions on the Senior full license.
Adult Drivers & Out of State
If you have moved to Pennsylvania to become a resident you must change over to a PennDOT license within 60 days of moving to the state. You simply hand over your out of state driver’s license that is valid, pass a vision test, and provide proof of identity and residency and pay the licensing fee. If you do not have a valid license within the last six months you will be required to follow the adult licensing outlined below if you are over 18 years old.
If you are 18 years old you will need to apply for a Learner Permit, take a vision and knowledge skills test and provide proof of identity and residency and pay the licensing fee. Once you have a Learner Permit you will be only be allowed to drive when accompanied by a licensed adult. At any time after receiving your Learner Permit you can apply to take your road skills test in order to get a Senior full license. You will need to provide proof of insurance, your Learner Permit, a valid driver’s license of an accompanying driver and the registration of the vehicle to be used for the road test. If you pass you will receive a full license.