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Pennsylvania Drivers Education

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To drive a vehicle in Pennsylvania, you have to have a valid PA driver’s license. Teens,  16 years old and 17 years old, who are learning to drive for the first time may begin by obtaining a junior learner’s permit. Adult first-time drivers must obtain a PA learner’s permit.

Defensive driving courses and PA mature driving courses also are available for current drivers. The state also sometimes orders those who have violated traffic laws to attend Penn DOT Driver Improvement Programs.

Testing and Preparing to Drive

To obtain a PA learner’s permit or junior learner’s permit at a PENN DOT office, you must first pass a written knowledge exam. This exam measures your knowledge of the state’s traffic laws in Pennsylvania and other important defensive driving techniques.

Penn DOT offers the written test in audio or written format in 18 different languages at Driver License Centers across the Commonwealth.

Importantly, if you fail the PA written test, you may retake it the next day. You also must pass a vision test, administered by your optometrist or at your nearest Pennsylvania Driver License Center.

Also, before the Penn DOT issues an unrestricted PA driver license, you will need to pass a road test.

A total of three tests are involved in obtaining your driver license:

  • Vision Test – 20/40 vision is required to avoid corrective lenses
  • Knowledge Test
  • Road Test

Graduated Driver License

The Penn DOT requires adults to complete a two-step process and teens to complete a three-step process to receive an unrestricted license. In both cases, the first is to obtain the learner’s permit.

Part of the graduated driver license process involves taking an approved PA Driver Education Course.

Continue reading below to learn more.

PA Learner’s Permit

While you have your learner’s permit in Pennsylvania, you may drive with licensed drivers in the car with you.

Teen drivers face additional restrictions:

1. They must be accompanied by a parent or spouse who is older than 18.

The learner’s permit gives you an opportunity to practice driving on the road before taking the road test.

NOTE: Adults with a learner’s permit may take their road test at any time. Adults who pass the road test and already have a learner’s permit receive their unrestricted license with no additional requirements.

2. During the time teen drivers have their PA learner’s permit, they must complete at least 65 hours of practice driving including 10 hours at night and 5 hours of bad weather.

They also must have their junior learner’s permit for at least 6 months before they can take the road test. If they pass the road test, they receive a PA junior driver’s license.

3. A junior driver’s license restricts the hours during which they can drive and the number of non-adult passengers they can have. During this time, teen drivers must also complete an approved Pennsylvania Driver Education course.

Finally at 17 1/2, a teen can apply for an unrestricted PA driver’s license if they have completed all the steps, and have a clean driving record and parental consent.

Remedial Driver Programs

Sometimes the Pennsylvania courts will order drivers to complete a remedial driver training program. There are private organizations that contract with the Commonwealth for remedial driver education programs.

First, you must check with the court in the county where you received your ticket to determine your eligibility. Then visit our partner’s service MYIMPROV Defensive Driving Course to learn more about this approved PA defensive driving course.

Defensive Driving and Mature Driver Courses

Defensive driving and mature driver courses are voluntary. Although they do not help you remove demerit points from your license, they can, in some cases, result in lower insurance premiums.

Penn DOT allows mature drivers who are older than 55 years old to take an approved Defensive Driving Course. Mature drivers may be eligible for a 5% discount on car insurance as long as they re-take the course every 3 years.

Mature Driver Improvement Courses are available for those older than 55. Approved courses are offered through AAA, AARP, Seniors for Safe Driving, and Safe2Drive.


Edgar Snyder and Associates: What It’s Like to Get Your Driver’s License as an Adult
Pennsylvania DMV: Tests
PennDOT: Older Drivers
PennDOT: Young Drivers

Last Verified:
Mar 30, 2023