Your First-Time Idaho Drivers License Guide

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: June 11, 2021

Most first-time drivers in Idaho must complete a drivers ed course to learn how to drive safely. This step is required by the Idaho Transportation Department (ID ITD) 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 Idaho License

If you’re looking to get your Idaho 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.
No matter your age, getting your license can be an exciting, scary, and confusing time, sometimes all at the same time. First off, let’s clear up some Idaho ITD 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 Idaho 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. In Idaho, if you are between 14 ½ and 17, you must take drivers ed to get a license.

The Path to an Idaho 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 three steps done.

Before starting drivers ed, you’ll need to apply for a driver training permit. Application will happen at a county licensing office. When you arrive, you’ll need to bring:

A list of all of the acceptable documents can be found on pages 21-25 of the Idaho Drivers Manual.

Step 1—Take Drivers Ed

Idaho driver training can be completed in three ways:

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

How to Choose the Best Driving School for Your Teen

An Idaho drivers ed course has three parts:

Idaho drivers ed teaches topics like:

Here’s what the Idaho Transportation Department says about drivers ed:

“The minimum training period for students attending driver education classes through a public school is 30 days. Students taking driver education classes from a commercial school are not restricted to a minimum training period. Students must be at least 14 ½ years of age and are only allowed to drive with an instructor during the class.”

Step 2—Get Your Permit

Once you have finished drivers ed, your instructor will give your driver training permit to your parents and it will become your SIP (Supervised Instruction Permit). You’ll be using it for the next six months to get the next step done.

Step 3—Complete 50 Hours of Practice Driving

Now it’s time to put that SIP 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 50 hours of practice driving, and at least 10 of those will need to happen after dark.
Your permit does come with some restrictions. You must be accompanied at all times by a licensed driver who is 21 or older, 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:

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 50 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.

Does Your Learners Permit Work Out-of-State?

Step 4—Pass Your Written and Driving Tests

The knowledge test is available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and American Sign Language (ASL).

The written test will include questions about:

To pass the 40-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 85%. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare.

How to Pass the Permit Test

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 Doesn’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.

Fail Your Permit Test? You’re Not Alone


If you do happen to fail you can retake the test, but there are some rules:

How to Retake Your Permit Test

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

I Just Got My Permit and Now We’re Moving?!?

Finally, the last hurdle, your driving test.

It’s all good. You got this.

You must be at least 15 years old to apply for an underage drivers license. You must also have:

You have to go to a county license office to perform your skills (drive) test with a skills examiner. The car you bring must be insured and registered and you must have written or verbal (in-person) permission from the owner to use it. the examiner will do a visual inspection of the car before you start so that you can demonstrate your knowledge of the basic equipment. Make sure you know everything you can about the car and how to use hand signals or your test might be over before it begins!

During the test you will be graded on your ability to:

Using Your New License

Until age 18, your license will come with some restrictions:

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!