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:
- Driver Training—A.K.A. “drivers ed.” A state-approved course that will cover driving law and basic driving skills.
- Driver Training Permit—Permit allowing you to drive during drivers ed.
- SIP—A.K.A. “Supervised 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.
- PCN—A.K.A “Personal Credential Number” The number on your drivers license.
- Knowledge Test—A.K.A. “Written Driving” or “Permit” Test, it’s the one you’ll have to pass to get a permit.
- Driving Skills Test—A.K.A. “Road Skills Test” or just plain ‘ol “Driving Test,” it’s the one you’ll have to pass to get your license.
- Underage Drivers License—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 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:
- Take drivers ed
- Get a learner’s permit (SIP)
- Complete 50 Hours of Practice Driving
- Pass a written and a road skills test
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 Certified Original Birth Certificate
- Acceptable photo identification
- Social Security Card or Number for verification
- Proof of Idaho Residency
- Liability Signer (if under 18)—must be a birth parent or court-ordered guardian
- Verification of School Compliance (VOC) (if under 18)
- Acceptable Lawful Presence Documents (if applicable)
- Your eyeballs (for a vision test)
- Check, cash, or credit card (to pay any applicable fees)
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:
- Through a public school program
- Through the Idaho Digital Learning Alliance (IDLA)
- Through a private driving school
If you (or your folks) would prefer a private driving school, check out our guide to selecting the best driving one.
An Idaho drivers ed course has three parts:
- 30 hours of classroom training
- 6 hours of behind the wheel practice
- 6 hours of in-car observation of another driver
Idaho drivers ed teaches topics like:
- Idaho traffic law and rules of the road
- Sharing the road with other motorists, big trucks, cyclists, and pedestrians
- Basic vehicle maneuvers
- Emergency situations and how to avoid them
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:
- 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 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.
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:
- 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 40-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 85%. 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 Idaho Drivers Manual
- Take a driver prep course, a great way to get you ready for your license. (Learn more)
- Quiz yourself with an Idaho 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 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.
If you do happen to fail you can retake the test, but there are some rules:
- You have to wait three days for another attempt
- You’ll have to pay the testing fee again
Another Note—If you’re new to Idaho and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help.
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:
- Held your SIP for at least six months
- No at-fault crashes in those six months
- No moving violation convictions in those six months
- No alcohol or drug convictions of any kind in those six months
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:
- Drive in commercial and residential settings
- Negotiate curves
- Navigate intersections—(controlled, uncontrolled, railroad, and roundabout)
- Drive on the interstate (freeway)
- Proper lane changes
- Proper turns—(right, left, U-turn)
- Parking—(stall and curb)
Using Your New License
Until age 18, your license will come with some restrictions:
- You may drive only during daylight hours unless accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older who has a valid driver’s license and is sitting in the front seat
- During the first six months from the date the license was issued, you are limited to only one passenger under the age of 17 unless the passengers are related to the driver by blood, adoption, or marriage
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!