Washington D.C. DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you live in Washington D.C. (or plan to soon) and you’re getting ready to apply for your driver’s license or learner’s permit, then it only stands to reason that you’d have plenty of questions. Make sure you pick up a copy of the Washington D.C. Driver’s Handbook at your earliest convenience and study it cover to cover, as it contains all of the information covered by your written knowledge test. You may also find the following FAQ helps you better know what to expect from the application process itself.
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How old do I need to be before I am eligible for a Washington D.C. learner’s permit?
Every state has its own age restrictions when it comes to who can drive and who can’t. However, in Washington D.C., you must be at least 16 years of age before you can apply for your permit and get on the road to becoming a bona fide driver.
What documents do I need to bring with me when I arrive to apply for my D.C. driver’s license?
In order for your application to be considered, you must arrive at a DMV field office with government-recognized documents of each of the following types:
  • Proof of your legal name and date of birth
  • Proof of your social security number
  • Proof of your residency in Washington D.C. (if you are under the age of 18)
  • Proof of approval from your parent or guardian (if you are 16-17)
If you are unsure as to whether or not a particular document you would like to present at the DMV will be considered appropriate, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure. Otherwise, you risk waiting in line only to have to return some other day to restart the process.
If I’m underage, do my parents have to bring me or can I just show up to apply by myself?
If you are under 18, then it’s probably best and easiest for a parent or legal guardian to come with you, as they will need to sign forms to show their consent. If, however, this is not possible for whatever reason, you can bring a signed and notarized permission document and present that to the DMV instead.
Will I need to pass a physical before I’ll be allowed to drive?
No. Washington D.C. does not require residents to take or pass a physical before they’ll be allowed to enjoy driving privileges. However, you may be asked routine medical question and be required to provide further information if you have any conditions that might hinder your ability to drive safely. You will also be required to take and pass a vision test.
How many hours of supervised driving practice do I need to log before I can have my Washington D.C. driver’s license?
In Washington D.C., you must log at least 40 hours of supervised driving practice. You must also hold your permit for a minimum of 6 months. You are not allowed to incur any traffic violations over the course of that time, no matter how minor.
Do I need to make an appointment for my road test or does the Washington D.C. DMV accept walk-ins?
Although you are allowed to simply walk in when you first apply for your license and take your written test, you are required to make an appointment to take your road test. No walk-ins are allowed.
Do I need to bring my own vehicle for my road test or will the DMV provide one for me?
In certain cases, the Washington D.C. DMV may provide you with a vehicle for your road test. However, if you wish to go with that option, it’s important to check with the office in advance. Otherwise, you bring your own vehicle. If you need/want to test using your own vehicle make sure:
  • You are able to show proper proof of insurance and registration.
  • The vehicle in question has all of the proper license tags and stickers.
  • The vehicle is in solid working order. All lights, gauges, signals, and so forth must be in perfect condition in order for the DMV to deem it acceptable.
Is there anything else I need to know about my road test?
Yes. Make sure you’re aware that you may not drive yourself to your appointment. DMV authorities will check to make sure you arrived with a licensed driver that is at least 21 years of age. If you show up without one, then the DMV will cancel your road test appointment.
If I pass my road test, how long do I have to wait before I’ll have my license? What happens if I fail?
There isn’t any waiting period if you actually pass. You will receive your license immediately. If you fail the road test, don’t worry. You may make another appointment to retake it after 72 hours have passed. Just be aware that if you fail the test 6 times, you will have to wait one full year before you’ll be allowed to take it again.
What forms of payment does the Washington D.C. DMV accept?
All Washington D.C. field offices accept most common forms of payment. You are free to pay for any and all of your fees using:
  • Cash (except for at the Brentwood Road Test office)
  • Money order
  • Check
  • MasterCard, Visa, or Discover credit/debit cards
Please note that at this time, the Washington D.C. DMV does not accept American Express.
I’m new to Washington D.C. How do I go about transferring my driving privileges?
Once you become an official Washington D.C. resident, you are required to have your license transferred within 30 days. Otherwise, you are not legally authorized to drive there. Exceptions are only made for students and military personnel that technically live elsewhere despite spending most of their time in D.C. To transfer your license, bring proof of your identity and social security number, as well as your existing license and payment for fees to your nearest field office. You will need to take a vision test and surrender your license as well.
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