Your First-Time Alaska Drivers License Guide

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: December 14, 2023

Most first-time drivers in Alaska must complete a driver’s ed course to learn how to drive safely. This step is required by the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (AK DMV) to obtain a driving permit or a driver’s license. Fortunately, it’s not difficult going through one of these courses, and there are plenty available to choose from.

Steps to Getting Your Alaska License

If you’re looking to get your Alaska driver’s license, we’re here to help. Welcome to our step-by-step guide to get you off of your couch and out onto the road. We know you have a lot of questions, so let’s get going.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, getting your first license can be exciting, scary, and confusing, sometimes all at the same time. First off, let’s clear up some Alaska DMV terms. Sometimes, it seems they’ve gone out of their way to make it confusing.

Terms (and abbreviations) you should know:

See? I told you they made it confusing!

Who Must Take Alaska Drivers Ed?

Alaska is one of the few states with no driver’s ed requirement. However, it’s probably not a bad idea for anyone to take a driver’s ed course before getting their first license. You can enroll in driver’s ed at age 14. 

The Path to an Alaska License in a Nutshell

The quick and dirty looks like this:

Now, let’s take a look at what it’ll take to get those four steps done.

Step 1—Take Drivers Ed

An Alaska driver’s ed course includes a classroom portion and behind-the-wheel practice. The classroom portion teaches topics like:

The classroom portion of Alaska driver’s ed can be completed online or at an approved driving school.

Perhaps the easiest way to complete the classroom portion of driver’s ed is online. Taking driver’s ed online means you can complete this portion quickly and on a schedule that works best for you.

If you (or your folks) would prefer a traditional driving school experience, check out our guide to selecting the best driving school. 

Step 2—Getting Your Permit

In Alaska, you can apply for your instruction permit at age 14.

Application for a permit will happen at your local DMV office

IMPORTANT NOTE: If there isn’t a DMV office in your community, please follow the instructions in the AK DMV Guide to Rural Driving Information.

When you arrive, be sure to have the following:

After you have shown all of this to the folks at the DMV, hold on to it! You’ll need much of it again when you apply for your license.

Now it’s time for your written permit test

The test will include questions about:

To pass the 20-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 80%. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare.

Another way to give yourself a leg up on passing the permit test is to consider one (or more) of the following:

A permit practice test has everything the “real” test does, except the pressure. That’s because practice tests feature questions taken from actual DMV exams. It’s like seeing all the answers before the test even begins! Don’t head to the DMV without a dress rehearsal. You want to pass the first time.

What If Your Test Didn’t Go Like You Planned?

What if you get to the testing center and, despite all your best preparation, your nerves get the best of you, and you wind up failing the test? First, don’t panic. Nearly 1 out of 3 test-takers fail on their first attempt.

If you do happen to fail, the DMV will give you two more chances, but you’ll have to wait until at least the next day to try again.

Another Note—If you’re new to Alaska and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help.

Step 3—40 Hours of Practice Driving

Now it’s time to put that learner’s permit to good use, and you must use it for six months before you can apply for your license.

Before you can take a driving test, you’ll have to complete 40 hours of practice driving, and at least 10 of those will need to happen in “challenging conditions” like bad weather or after dark. 

Your permit does come with some restrictions. You must be accompanied at all times by a licensed driver who is:

While you might be nervous at first, do your best to enjoy this time and always pay close attention to what’s happening on the road around you. You never know the kinds of things, good and bad, that you might learn from the drivers around you. Take time to learn all you can from the licensed driver who is with you.

Also, do yourself the favor of driving in as many conditions as you can, places like:

It’s better if you don’t see these things for the first time on your own. 

Since you’ll be using your permit for six months, there’s no reason not to drive WAY more than 40 hours! It can only do you good.

BTW—If you are planning a family road trip, you may get the chance to do some practice driving in another state. Check this out to see if you can.

Step 4—Pass a Driving Test

Finally, the last hurdle, your driving test. It’s all good. You got this.

You must be 16 years old to apply for a full license. You must also have:

You must schedule an appointment with the DMV for a driving test. You can do this online or in person. You can also take your road test at an AK DMV-approved driving school.

When you arrive for your appointment, be sure to have the following with you:

Told you that you wanted to hang on to all the stuff from when you got your permit!

According to the DMV, “Working Order” means the vehicle has the following:

As for the test itself, here is what the DMV says about what to expect concerning things you’ll be expected to do/understand during your test:

 And here are some rules you’ll have to follow during the test: 

What if I Fail?

If you were to fail your driving test, what happens next depends on where you took it.

If you took it at the DMV—You will get two more chances within 90 days.

If you took it at a driving school—Retake rules at these alternate locations are determined by the individual location. You may want to ask about their policies before scheduling an appointment.

Using Your New License

Per the rules of the Alaska Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program, your new license will have some restrictions concerning when you can drive and who you can have in the car with you.

TIME: If you are under 18, you can’t drive state-wide from 1 A.M. to 5 A.M. except when driving:

PASSENGERS: If you are under age 18, you may not transport any passengers under age 21 except for family members.

A Final Note

Any licensed driver will tell you that you will never face a driving situation as complicated, nerve-wracking, and time-consuming as getting your license. By no means should you let your guard down once you’re behind the wheel, but rest assured. You’ll never face anything on the road that compares with the process it took to get your license.

Good luck as you work your way through this. Can’t wait to see you out on the road!

A Final Final Note

If you’ve made it this far, may we suggest you bookmark this page? You’ll probably be coming back to it often as you work your way through this!