First-time drivers in Connecticut must complete a drivers ed course to learn how to drive safely. This step is required by the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (CT DMV) to obtain a driving permit or a drivers license. Fortunately, it’s not difficult going through one of these courses, and there are plenty available to choose from.
Steps to Getting Your Connecticut License
If you’re looking to get your Connecticut drivers 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 an exciting, scary, and confusing time, sometimes all at the same time. First off, let’s clear up some Connecticut DMV terms. In some cases, it seems they’ve gone out of their way to make it confusing.
Terms (and abbreviations) you should know:
- Driver Training—A.K.A. “drivers ed.” A state-approved course that will cover driving law and basic driving skills.
- Learners Permit—A.K.A. “Instruction Permit” or “Driving Permit.” This permit will allow you to practice drive legally before applying for your license.
- Class D License—The license you’re shooting for, allowing you to drive any vehicle besides a motorcycle or commercial vehicle.
- Knowledge Test—A.K.A. “Written Driving” or “Permit” Test, it’s the one you’ll have to pass to get a permit.
- Road Test—A.K.A. “Driving Skills Test” or just plain ‘ol “Driving Test,” it’s the one you’ll have to pass to get your license.
- GDL—A.K.A. “Graduated Drivers License.” A “Class D” with some restrictions. These restrictions will apply if you are under 18.
See? I told you they made it confusing!
Who Must Take Connecticut Drivers Ed?
No matter your age, it’s probably not a bad idea for anyone to take a drivers ed course before getting their first license. However, Connecticut only requires drivers ed for driving candidates younger than 18.
The Path to a Connecticut License in a Nutshell
The quick and dirty looks like this:
- Get a learner’s permit
- Take drivers ed
- Complete 40 hours of practice driving
- Pass a road skills test
Now let’s take a look at what it’ll take to get those four steps done.
Step 1—Getting Your Permit
When you arrive, be sure to have the following:
- Proof of Identity
- You will need two of these, and at least one will need to be from the primary document list
- Proof of Social Security Number This can be in the form of a:
- Social Security card
- W-2 form (issued within 5 years)
- 1099 (issued within 5 years)
- Proof of Connecticut Residency
- You will need two of these as well. This list will help you know what the DMV requires
- Completed Application for Driver License You’ll need to print this off after completing the online scheduling process. If you need to reprint, you can get the form by using your appointment PIN through DMV’s online service and selecting “print receipt.”
- You’ll also need to bring your eyeballs (for a vision test)
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.
BTW—If English is not your first language, the permit test is also available in Spanish, Polish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Russian. There’s also an audio version available.
Now it’s time for your written permit test
The test will include questions about:
- Driving laws and their penalties
- Various kinds of driving skills, such as turning, signaling, lane changing, and parking
- Differences between highway driving and city driving, including speed limits
- Procedures to be used in accidents or emergencies
- Distinguishing various signs and their meaning based on color and shape
- Meanings of pavement markings on both highways and streets
To pass the 25-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 80% (20 out of 25). 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:
- Study the Connecticut Drivers Manual
- Take a driver prep course
- Quiz yourself with a Connecticut permit practice test You can download the DMV mobile app to find practice questions.
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.
You can find permit practice tests (both paid and free versions) all over the internet.
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 all the chances you need, but there are some rules.
- You will have to wait seven days for another attempt
- You must repay the License Exam Fee.
Another Note—If you’re new to Connecticut and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help.
Step 2—Take Drivers Ed
A Connecticut drivers ed course is comprised of:
- 30 hours of classroom instruction This instruction includes:
- An eight hour Safe Driving Practices course
- Two hours of parent training
That’s right. Mom or Dad get a little drivers ed, too!
The classroom portion teaches topics like:
- Connecticut traffic laws
- Meanings of road signs, signals, and markings
- Your responsibilities as a licensed driver
- Alcohol safety and drug abuse awareness
- Motor vehicle operation fundamentals
- Driving in hazardous situations
- Driving in emergency situations
Here’s a little help if your folks are curious about what to look for in a driving school.
If you and your parent or guardian choose the parent-taught program, what needs to be covered is found on the CTDMV Parent/Guardian Instruction Log. The driving practice portion of the training must be performed by a “Qualified Trainer.” This driver must:
- Be 20 or older
- Have held a driver license for at least 4 years with no suspensions during past 4 years
- This trainer can be:
- Your spouse (if you are under 18)
- Your parent, grandparent, foster parent or legal guardian
If neither of these options are available to you, your trainer can also be your stepparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt, by blood or marriage.
You and your trainer will also have to attend the eight hour Safe Driving Practices course at an approved driving school. After completing the course you will receive a certificate (Form CS-1). Hold on to it! You’ll need it when you apply for your license.
Step 3—40 Hours of Practice Driving
Now it’s time to put that learners permit to good use, and you are required to 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 must be supervised by a qualified trainer or a licensed driving instructor. You’ll need to record these hours so that it can be certified on your Driver License Application (Form R-229).
While you might be nervous at first, do your best to enjoy this time and always pay close attention to what’s going on 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:
- On the highway
- In neighborhoods
- On winding or hilly roads
- In downtown areas
- In bad weather
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.
During your practice time, the CTDMV has the following podcasts available to help you.
- New Drivers — Driving in Bad Weather Conditions
- New Drivers — Use Precaution Around a Truck’s No-Zone Area
- New Drivers — Know Your Traffic Signs
- New Drivers — Sharing the Road
- New Drivers — How to Take the On-the-Road Skills Test
Step 4—Pass a Driving Test
Finally, the last hurdle, your driving test. It’s all good. You got this.
Before scheduling your road test you must have held a valid instruction permit for at least six months. You can take the road test at the DMV or an approved commercial driving school.
If you choose to take your road test at the DMV you must schedule an appointment online.
When you arrive for your appointment, be sure to have the following with you:
- A print-out of your road test appointment confirmation page. (This is emailed to you when you successfully schedule your appointment.)
- A fully completed R-229 form application.
- Your learner’s permit. If you do not have it, you can obtain a duplicate.
- A properly registered and insured vehicle Review all the vehicle requirements.
- Valid Motor Vehicle Registration Certificate
- Connecticut Insurance card
- The CS-1 Driver Education Certificate
- License Fee
- Your qualified trainer to sign a form attesting that all driver education/practice driving requirements have been fulfilled.
Told you that you wanted to hang on to all the stuff from when you got your permit!
Here’s what the road test evaluates:
- Safe condition of the vehicle used for the road test
- Ability to properly adjust seat, mirror, seat belts
- Response to traffic control signs and signals, signaling, road markings
- Interaction with other motorists (yielding right-of-way, response to emergency vehicles).
- Proficiency in basic driving skills such as turns, backing and parking.
- Other driver maneuvers at the direction of the inspector/license agent.
- Knowledge of common phrases used during the road test.
If you were to fail your driving test, you’ll have to wait 14 days before trying again.
Using Your New License
Per the rules of the Connecticut Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program, your new license will come with some restrictions concerning when you can drive and who you can have in the car with you.
You can’t drive state-wide from 11 P.M. to 5 A.M. except when driving:
- To or from work
- To or from school
- To or from an event sponsored by a civic, religious, or public organization.
- Medical necessity
- For the 1st six months no passengers
- For the 2nd six months no passengers except members of your immediate family
If you don’t follow these restrictions your license will be seized on-the-spot by police and your car towed. This will also happen in the event of a DUI or if you are clocked at 20 MPH over the posted limit.
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 will compare with the process it took to get you 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!
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