Your First-Time Connecticut Drivers License Guide

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: March 29, 2021

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:

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:

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

Step 1—Getting Your Permit

Application for a permit begins online. Permit testing is available by appointment only

When you arrive, be sure to have the following:

Check out the DMV list of acceptable documents to see exactly what you should bring. This list is also available in Spanish

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:

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:

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.

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:

That’s right. Mom or Dad get a little drivers ed, too!

The classroom portion teaches topics like:

The classroom portion of Connecticut drivers ed can be completed at an approved driving school, your high school (if it’s offered), or through a parent-taught program. 

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:

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:

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.

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:

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:

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.

TIME:

You can’t drive state-wide from 11 P.M. to 5 A.M. except when driving:

PASSENGERS:

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!