In Delaware, first-time drivers younger than 18 must complete a drivers ed course to get a license. Taking drivers ed is required by the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DE DMV) as the first step in the licensing process.
Steps to Getting Your Delaware License
If you’re looking to get your Delaware 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 Delaware DMV terms. In some cases, it seems they’ve gone out of their way to make it confusing.
Terms (and abbreviations) you should know:
- Classroom Driver Education—A.K.A. “drivers ed.” A state-approved course that will cover driving law and basic driving skills.
- Blue Certificate—A.K.A “Blue/White Certificate” The proof you will need that you have completed drivers ed.
- Level One Learner Permit—A.K.A. “Learners 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.
- Written Exam—A.K.A. “Permit” or “Knowledge” test, it’s the one you’ll have to pass to get a permit.
- Road Skills Exam—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.
- Eye Exam—A.K.A. a “Vision Test,” not to determine whether or not you need glasses, just if you will need them to drive.
- GDL—A.K.A. “Graduated Drivers License.” A “Class D” with some restrictions.
See? I told you they made it confusing!
Who Must Take Delaware 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, Delaware only requires drivers ed for driving candidates younger than 18. You are free to enroll in drivers ed when you turn 16.
Drivers ed is offered for free to 10th graders in public (and some private) schools across the state. You do have to maintain academic eligibility. This means that during the semester you’re taking drivers ed, you must be passing in at least five other classes, two of which must be core subjects (English, Mathematics, Social Studies, or Science).
If you do not qualify for drivers ed at your school for some reason, you may enroll in summer and evening driver education courses. This is also true if you are homeschooled or if drivers ed is not offered at your school.
The Path to a Delaware License in a Nutshell
The quick and dirty looks like this:
- Take drivers ed
- Get a learner permit
- Pass a road skills test
- Complete 50 hours of practice driving
Now let’s take a look at what it’ll take to get those four steps done.
Step 1—Take Drivers Ed
A Delaware drivers ed course is comprised of:
- 30 hours of classroom instruction
- Seven hours of behind the wheel practice
- Seven hours of in-car observation
The classroom portion teaches topics like:
- Delaware 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
At the end of your course, you will receive your “Blue Certificate.” Hold on to it! You’ll need it when you apply for your license.
BTW—If you passed drivers ed in another state, your out-of-state course and/or driver license must be approved by the Department of Education
Step 2—Getting Your Permit
Once you have completed drivers ed, you can apply for your Level One Learner Permit.
Application for a permit will happen at your local DMV office. You can access the DMV website to see wait times at any of the locations in the state.
When you arrive, be sure to have the following:
- Drivers Ed Certificate of Completion
- One Proof of Identity
- Two Proofs of Residency
- One Proof of Social Security number
Check out the DMV list of acceptable documents to see exactly what you should bring.
- You’ll also need to bring
- Your eyeballs (for a vision test)
- Check, cash, or credit card to pay your application fee. (Currently $40)
Make sure you have your sponsor with you. A sponsor is a licensed adult who will take responsibility for the rest of your driver training. Here are the qualifications for a sponsor, found on the first question on the FAQ page.
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 30-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:
- Study the Delaware Drivers Manual. The manual is also available in Chinese, Spanish, Korean, and Haitian Creole
- Take a driver prep course, a great way to get you ready for your license. (Learn more)
- Quiz yourself with a Delaware permit practice test
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 for your test 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.
Another Note—If you’re new to Delaware and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help,
Step 3—Pass a Driving Test
Finally, the last hurdle, your driving test. It’s all good. You got this.
You can attempt your driving test the first time 10 days after receiving your permit. You can schedule your road test one of two ways:
- Visit the DMV website
- Select “Online Services”
- Select “My Road Test” and follow the online instructions
- Call your nearest DMV office
- Delaware City….302-832-5176
When you arrive for your appointment, be sure to have the following with you:
- Valid learner’s permit
- Valid driver license of the accompanying driver who is at least 21 years of age (excludes motorcycle skills test holders)
- Valid registration card for the vehicle you will be using (and trailer if applicable)
- Valid insurance card (original or electronic) for the vehicle you will be using
During the test, you will be observed (and graded) on your ability to:
- Respond to road signs, traffic signals and pavement markings
- Parallel parking
- Three point turn
- Make right and left turns
- Change lanes
- Use right-of-way rules
- Maintain proper speed
- Back 50 feet
- Merge with traffic
- Follow and overtake vehicles
- Enter intersections
- Be overtaken
- Inspect vehicle for safety
- Know vehicle controls
If you were to fail your driving test, you’ll have to wait 10 days before trying again.
Step 4—50 Hours of Practice Driving
In the first six months of having your permit you’ll have to complete 50 hours of practice driving, and at least 10 of those will need to happen after dark. Your sponsor (or other approved supervising driver) will need to document these hours of practice driving and turn it in to the Delaware Department of Education.
There are restrictions you must follow during these first six months. You must be accompanied at all times by a licensed driver who is:
- 25 or older
- Has had their license for at least five years
- Riding in the front passenger seat
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.
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.
The Second Six Months
After the first six months of valid Level One Learner’s Permit driving possession:
- The permit holder may drive unsupervised between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
- The permit holder may drive between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in the following situations:
- When under supervision
- When traveling to and from school, work, or church activities
- You are only allowed one passenger unless a supervisor is present
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!
A Few More Helpful Items from the Delaware DMV
Visit the DMV’s Teen Driving Page. It is a great resource to prepare you for each step of the process and for answering any questions you might have along the way.
Links to some of the trickier items on the List of Acceptable Documents
Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240)
Certificate of Birth Abroad (FS-545)
A Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or Form N-570)
A Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560 or Form N-561)
Permanent Resident “Green” Card (Form I-551)
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