Steps to Getting Your Indiana LicenseIf you’re looking to get your Indiana 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. Getting your license is an exciting, scary, and confusing time, sometimes all at the same time. First off, let’s clear up some Indiana BMV terms. Sometimes it seems they’ve gone out of their way to make it confusing. Terms (and abbreviations) you should know:
- Learners Permit—The “license” you will use for behind the wheel training and practice driving as you prepare for your driving test. Also known as a “Learner’s License” or a “Driving Permit” or an “Instructional Permit.”
- Behind the Wheel Training—Six hours in-car with a licensed driving instructor. Required of every driving candidate younger than 16 years and 270 days. More about this in a minute.
- Drivers Ed—A 30-hour classroom or online course teaching the basics of driving.
The Road to an Indiana License in a NutshellThe quick and dirty looks like this:
- Take drivers ed
- Get a learner’s permit
- Complete 50 hours of practice driving
- Apply for a Probationary Driver’s License
- Pass a road skills test
Step 1—Take Drivers EdTechnically, the BMV only requires 15-year-olds to complete drivers ed. However, if you are 16 or older, taking a drivers ed course will not only give you valuable knowledge, it will ensure that you are better prepared to pass your written and driving tests. The 30-hour Indiana drivers ed course will cover topics including:
- Indiana traffic law
- Defensive driving techniques
- Identification of Indiana road signs and their meanings
- Handling emergency situations
- Sharing the road safely with others
Best Indiana BMV Approved Online Drivers Ed Course Providers
|MyImprov.com||Drivers License Direct by Improv||800-660-8908|
|DriverEdToGo.com||Driver Ed To Go||866-749-4445|
|IndianaTeenDriving.com||Indiana Teen Driving||855-852-9334|
|Indiana.AAADriverProgram.com||AAA How to Drive||317-612-2653|
|A4TS.com||Alliance for Traffic Safety||888-882-7598|
|AllStarDriverEdOnline.com||All-Star Driver Education||800-967-7719|
|DriverEdSafety.com||Indiana Educational Center||317-759-5560|
|DriverEdInABox.com||Driver Ed In A Box||800-562-6405|
|LearnToDriveIndiana.com||Learn to Drive Online||812-589-4936|
If you (or your folks) would prefer a traditional driving school experience, check out our guide to selecting the best driving school.
Step 2—Apply for a Permit
- If you are younger than 16 and are enrolled in drivers ed
- If you are younger than 18 and not enrolled in drivers ed
- If you are younger than 18 and under the care of the Department of Child Services
- If you are older than 18 and have never held a license
- When you get there, make sure to have the following with you:
- Completed Certificate of Driver Education (CDE) or proof that you are currently enrolled (Age 15 only)
- Proof of Identity
- Proof of Lawful Status
- Proof of Social Security
- Proof of Indiana Residency
- Once they’ve figured out that you are who you say you are, you’ll have to:
- Pass a vision exam
- Pass the BMV Operator Written Test
- Indiana traffic laws
- Safe driving techniques
- Traffic maneuvers
- Types of traffic signs.
- Study the Indiana Drivers Manual (Also available in Spanish)
- Take a driver prep course
- Quiz yourself with an Indiana 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.
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 BMV will give you another try. The only frustrating thing is that it means another trip to the BMV because you can’t try again until at least the next day.
Another Note—If you’re new to Indiana and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help.
Step 3—50 Hours of Practice DrivingNow it’s time to put that learners permit to good use. 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. You can print this log to track your driving time easily. Your permit does come with some restrictions. You must be accompanied at all times by a licensed driver in the front passenger seat.
- This driver must:
- Be 25 years of age or older with a valid drivers license
- Be related to you by blood, marriage, or legal status. If you are married and your spouse has a valid license, they only need be 21
- A licensed driving instructor or a certified driver rehabilitation specialist
- On the highway
- In neighborhoods
- On winding or hilly roads
- In downtown areas
- In bad weather
Step 4—Apply for a Probationary Driver’s LicenseTo be eligible for this step you must:
- Have held an Indiana learner’s permit for 180 days and
- Meet the age requirements:
- Be at least 16-years and 90-days-old and have completed drivers ed, OR
- Be at least 16-years and 270-days-old if you didn’t take drivers ed
- Bring along a signed Log of Supervised Driving and proof of successful completion of a driver education course, if you were required to take it.
- Your learners permit
- Be accompanied by a licensed driver
- If under the age of 18, a parent or guardian who can sign for financial responsibility
- Have your eyeballs handy for a vision test
- It must be insured to Indiana’s minimum liability insurance standard.
- It must be properly registered.
- It must be legally equipped and in safe and clean condition.
- It must pass a visual inspection by the examiner just before going on a skills exam
- All interior cameras must be disabled.
Step 5—Pass a Driving TestFinally, the last hurdle, your driving test. It’s all good. You got this. Your driving skills test can be taken at a BMV branch office or, if you have taken drivers ed, with your instructor at the driving school.
Here are some of the things your examiner will be looking for. Be sure you pay attention to them, too.
- Driving in the proper lane by obeying the lane markings
- Looking carefully and signaling properly before changing lanes
- Leave enough distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead
- If you are passed by another vehicle, maintain your speed and give them enough room to pass safely
- Control your speed according to posted speed limits and varying traffic conditions
- Listen to the instructions of the examiner and observe the general flow of traffic
- Approach intersections well, maintaining proper speed, watch for other vehicles, and stopping completely
- Using your mirrors and checking your blind spots
You’ll lose points on your score if you:
- Fail to use defroster or wipers when needed
- Fail to use both hands on the wheel
- Select the wrong gear
- Fail to signal
- Drive too slowly or stop unnecessarily
- Overrun a crosswalk, stop line, or stop sign
- Fail to check blind spot
- Slow speed when changing lanes
- Reverse too fast
- Leave turn signal on after lane change or turn
- Drive too closely to the vehicle ahead or a parked vehicle
The BMV website also mentions about 20 things that will result in an automatic failure. In a nutshell, do anything that would result in getting you a ticket if you had a license will result in you not getting one. If things don’t go well the first time… If you were to fail your driving skills test, the BMV would make you wait 14 days to try again. If you happen to fail three times, the wait stretches to 60 days. But, hey, you worked hard, so these rules don’t apply to you, right?
Using Your Shiny New License
If you are under 21 and have completed all five steps, you’ll be the proud owner of an Indiana Probationary License. Probationary Licenses were established as part of the Indiana Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) Program, and they come with some restrictions. For starters, go ahead and toss your phone into your purse or backpack or glove compartment because you cannot use it except to call 911. There are additional rules about when you can drive and who can be in the car with you.
Time and passengers
For the first 180 days, you can’t drive between 10 PM and 5 AM, and you can’t have anyone else in the car with you. After 180 days (or until you turn 18), you can’t drive between the following hours:
- Saturday and Sunday, between 1 AM and 5 AM
- Sunday through Thursday, after 11 PM
- Monday through Friday, before 5 AM
EXCEPTIONS: You can drive anytime if:
- You are traveling to or from work, a school-sanctioned activity, or a religious event
- You are accompanied in the front seat by a licensed passenger who is at least 25 years old
- You are accompanied in the front seat by a licensed spouse who is at least 21 years old
You can drive at the approved times to transport your child, stepchild, sibling, step or half-sibling, or spouse.
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!
If it’s permit application time and you need any of the forms mentioned on the BMV’s list of acceptable documents, you can find them right here.
Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560)
Certificate of Naturalization issued by DHS (Form N-550)
Permanent Resident “Green” Card (Form I-551)
Employment Authorization Card (Form I-766)
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