Washington State Department of Licensing has a great page on obtaining a driver's license

Some basic information:

I. An instruction permit allows a youth to practice driving before taking the driving test to obtain their license.

If enrolled in a driver’s education class a student can get their permit at age 15. If not enrolled they must wait until 15 1/2 and pass the written test given by the department of licensing.
For more information http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/getpermit.html

II. Steps to get an intermediate drivers license if under 18 years old.

  • Must be 16 years of age
  • Pass a traffic safety education course
  • Have had an instruction permit for at least 6 months
  • Have had at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice with someone who has been licensed for 5 years or more, including 10 hours at night.
  • Not have had any traffic violations within 6 months of applying for a license
  • Not have been convicted of any alcohol or drug offense while holding a permit.

For more information http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/teens.html

Q. What is an intermediate license?

In 2000 the state legislature enacted new laws to restrict the driving of youth under the age of 18 years old and implemented the “intermediate drivers license” program.  To get an intermediate license you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Hold an instruction permit at least 6 months
  • Complete driver education
  • Drive at least 50 hours, 10 of them at night, while supervised
  • Pass a driving test

After getting an intermediate license you may:

  • First 6 months – not carry passengers younger than 20 other than immediate family
  • After 6 months – not carry more than 3 passengers younger than 20 other than immediate family
  • Not drive between 1 am and 5 am unless supervised

Restrictions end:

  • After 1 year or 18, whichever comes first

These laws may be changes this legislative session due to a study conducted by the Joint Transportation Legislative Committee dated January 2007


III. What are traffic safety education courses required to provide?

Programs must include the following:

  •  30 hours of classroom instruction, with a maximum of 2 hours per day.
  • Minimum of 4 hours of behind-the-wheel training, with a maximum of 1 hour per day.
  • Minimum of 1 hour of behind-the-wheel observation
  • Total of 50 hours of mandatory out-of-class practice time, including ten hours of nighttime driving.

Curriculum requirements http://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/521014.pdf

Drivers training programs are taught by commercial driving schools and at some public schools for a fee, fees range from $300-$600 or more.

Q. Can a parent buy a commercial curriculum and teach their child drivers education?

Yes, but under current law this will not count towards the requirement to pass a traffic safety education course.

CHN  introduced a bill in the 2007, 2008 and 2010 legislative session to change this law to allow for parent taught drivers education. Unfortunately it has not passed but we will keep trying.  Here is a great article explaining this option.


The web site for National Driver Training has more information on parent taught drivers education  http://www.usdrivertraining.com/