Your First-Time Washington Drivers License Guide

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: September 6, 2023

Every new driver under 18 years of age is required by the Washington Department of Licensing to complete an approved driver education course. In Washington, this course is also known as a Traffic Safety Education course.

A drivers education course is particularly useful to new drivers, preparing them to head onto the road safely and confidently and giving them information that will make it easier to pass the required licensing written and driving tests.

When You Can Begin Drivers Ed Washington

You can start a Washington drivers ed course as soon as you turn 15, but you will have to obtain a learner permit within ten days of starting your class. If you are applying for a learner permit and are under the age of 15 ½, you’ll have to provide proof of enrollment in a driver education course. If you are under the age of 18, you must submit parental approval. No matter your age, you’ll have to pass a written knowledge test in order to get your permit.

You can study the Washington driver handbook to prepare yourself for this exam, or you can make use of a permit practice test. Permit practice tests feature questions taken from past Washington written exams giving you the chance to see exactly the type of questions you’ll be required to answer.

How Washington Drivers Ed Works

A Washington drivers ed course is made of two components – a classroom portion and an in-car portion. The classroom portion is 30 hours long spread over a minimum of 15 days. The driving portion contains at least six hours of driving practice (with a maximum of one hour per day) and at least one hour of in-car observation.

The classroom portion of your course will provide information on topics like:

Washington drivers ed courses are offered at Washington high schools as well as state-approved driver training schools. To help you find a location near you, visit the driver training school page of the Washington Department of Licensing website.

Moving from Drivers Ed Washington to a Washington Driver License

Once you have finished your drivers education course, have completed 50 hours of driving practice and have held your learners permit for at least six months, you may apply for a Washington driver license. Application will be made at your local Washington DOL office, and you will need to supply the following:

To apply for a Washington driver license you must be at least 16 years of age. If you are less than 18, you will be issued an intermediate driver license, a license that carries driving restrictions. For full details about an intermediate driver license, visit the Washington DOL teen driver license website.