Your First-Time Texas License Guide for Drivers 18-24

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: November 6, 2023

Texas is unique in many ways. They have state slogans that warn against “messin'” with it, and, despite the presence of Alaska, many Texans still consider their state to be the biggest.

Another way that Texas sets itself apart from the rest of the U.S. is that Texas is one of very few states in the Union to not only require teens but also first-time drivers 18-24-years old to complete drivers ed.

The Texas Young Driver Program requires new driving candidates aged 18-24 to complete what is commonly called “Adult Drivers Ed” to get a Texas drivers license. While drivers license issuance and rules come under Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) jurisdiction, Adult Drivers Ed falls under the authority of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).

Fortunately, it’s not difficult going through one of these courses, and there are plenty available to choose from.

Getting Your Texas License with Adult Drivers Ed

If you’re looking to get your Texas 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.

Steps to Getting Your Texas License

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—Complete Two Driving Courses

Wait. You’re telling me that drivers ed is TWO courses?!?

No, drivers ed is just one of the courses you’ll have to complete. Let me explain.

In 2015, Texas implemented the Impact Texas Drivers (ITD) Program. At the time of its introduction, it was only required of first-time teen drivers and was known as the Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) Program. The state then decided to make the course a requirement for anyone taking a driving skills test, no matter their age. On September 1, 2017, the state rolled out the Impact Young Texas Drivers (IYTD) Program. This is the course you will be taking.

The IYTD program is a one-hour course designed to impress upon new drivers the importance of being safe and responsible on the road. The course is free and available to complete at Impact Texas Drivers. Be advised: The course is only available to be viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. It is NOT compatible with phones or tablets. There are several other “known issues” detailed on the Impact Texas Drivers site. It is unclear how long these problems will exist, so visit the site early in your license planning process to determine if and how these issues may affect you. ITYD may not only impact your driving; it may impact your scheduling, too.

Onward to Drivers Ed

The purpose of any driver education course is to equip you with the skills and knowledge you will need to take to the road safely and confidently. Courses of this type are a good idea and strongly recommended for first-time drivers of any age.

A Texas drivers ed course will provide valuable information on topics like:

Unlike Texas teen drivers ed (which includes 32 hours of classroom instruction and 14 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction), Texas Adult Drivers Ed is only six hours in length and can be completed at an approved driving school or online.

BTW, Adult Drivers Ed IS compatible with cellphones and tablets!

For most busy young adults, an online course is the best option. Instead of giving up an entire Saturday to get the course done, you can finish an online course a piece at a time, whenever you have the time. Flexibility and convenience like that is hard to beat!

If you think completing a course online might be a good fit, here’s a list of some great Texas online adult drivers ed providers.

Best Texas DPS Approved Online Adult Drivers Ed Course Providers

Website Name License Phone Drivers Ed C2548 888-651-2886 I Drive Safely C2267 800-723-1955 Aceable C2839 512-920-6322 Adult Drivers Ed C2588 800-851-3007 American Safety Council C2386 800-771-2255 National Driver Training Institute C2693 512-222-1100 Safeway Driving C0182 713-468-1313 1-2-3 Driving School C1384 972-633-1605 Virtual Drive Management C2636 806-418-2474 Safe2Drive C2229 800-763-1297 Roadworthy Driving Academy C2006 210-945-7600 Affordable Driver Ed C2693 512-222-1100 Drivers Education of America C2826 855-675-8700

Step 2—Complete the License Application Process

Completing this step could potentially be the most frustrating of the four. Texas requires a LOT of paperwork during the application process, and things only get more complicated if you are not a U.S. citizen. The only bright side here is that steps three and four can be completed on the same day that you submit your application. At least you’ll be walking—or, even better, driving—out of the DPS office with a license at the end of the day.

Application for a license will happen at your local DPS office. You’ll need to call or make an appointment online to submit your application.

When you arrive, be sure to have the following:

Check out the DPS list of “What to Bring” to know exactly what they will accept for each of these. We’ve also provided links to all of the documents mentioned on the “What to Bring” list at the end of this post.

If the examiner determines that your paperwork is good to go, it’s time to move on to Steps 3 and 4.

Step 3—Pass a Written Driving Knowledge Test

The test includes questions about:

To pass the 30-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 80%. 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 DPS 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.

Fail Your Permit Test? You’re Not Alone

If you do happen to fail, the DPS will give you two more chances, but there are some rules.

How to Retake Your Permit Test

Step 4—Pass a Driving Skills Test

Before we get into the specifics of the driving test, there’s something you should know. If you are not prepared to take your driving skills test the same day as your knowledge test, that’s OK. You can schedule with the DPS for a later date, or you can take your driving test at an approved Third Party Skills Testing (TPST) location.

Whenever you choose to take your test, you’ll need to provide your own vehicle. It must be properly registered and insured and in good enough condition to pass a mechanical and safety inspection.

As for the test itself, you should spend a little time with the DPS publicationHow to Prepare for a Drivers Test.” It paints a very clear picture of what you’ll need to (and can’t) do if you want to pass your driving test.

The long and short of it is this.

During the test, you will be observed (and graded) on your ability to:

If you were to fail your driving test, what happens next depends on where you took it.

After passing your driving skills test, you will receive a temporary paper license. Your new Class C license will arrive in the mail in 2-3 weeks. You can check on the status of your license through the DPS mailing status page.

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 Texas DPS

Information about testing in other languages

Guide for First Time DL/ID Applicants

Direct link to the Impact Texas Driver Program

Links to items you may need from the “What to Bring” list

Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240)

Certificate of Birth Abroad (FS-545)

Certification of Report of Birth of a U.S. Citizen (DS-1350)

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)

Employment Authorization Card (Form I-766)

Form I-797

Form I-94

Form I-20

Form I-327