To drive a vehicle in Tennessee, you have to have a valid driver’s license. Those under 18 trying to drive for the first time have to complete a Graduated Driver License program. The state also offers additional programs for drivers who have violated traffic laws and programs to assist with defensive driving techniques.
Testing and Preparing to Drive
To obtain a license in Tennessee, everyone must pass several tests. These include:
- A vision screening. Tennessee requires a visual acuity of at least 20/40, either corrected or uncorrected for a driver’s license.
- A knowledge test. The test includes questions about traffic signs and signals, safe driving principles, rules of the road, and drugs and alcohol.
- A skills test or road test. The test includes a pre vehicle safety inspection, then tests how you prepare to drive, start the car, communicate with other drivers, back up, and share the road with others.
Graduated Driver License
Tennessee has a graduated license program for those younger than 18. The program has four phases: a learner’s permit, intermediate restricted license, intermediate unrestricted license, and full license. Potential drivers can begin the process at age 15 and stay in the process until they are 18 or graduate from high school. At each step, the driver gains more privileges. The teens move through the steps as they practice under the supervision of an adult driver or gain more driving experience. If the teen receives more than six points for violations at any point during the process, they will need to complete a driver improvement program.
Adults who are learning to drive first obtain a learner’s permit, and when they are ready, take a road test to receive a full license.
Remedial Driver Programs
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Driver Services Division offers a Driver Improvement Program.
Those adults who have accumulated 12 points or more during a 12-month period are subject to having their license suspended for a year. They can ask for an administrative hearing, which may allow them to attend a driver improvement program instead of some or all of the suspension.
Young drivers are required to attend a Driver Improvement Program if they accumulate six points within a 12-month period to continue driving.
To successfully complete the Driver Improvement Program, the driver must attend a school authorized by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. A list of schools by city is available here.
Defensive Driving Courses
Defensive driving courses are voluntary. These are part of the Driver Improvement Program. Although Tennessee does not allow drivers to remove points from their record by taking these courses, they may help drivers save on their insurance. Courses also exist that are especially geared to older drivers. The best way to ensure that you’ll save on insurance by taking one of the courses is to contact your insurance agent. The agent will suggest which courses are acceptable to them.