Kentucky DMV Handbook and Regulations FAQ

If you’re getting ready to begin the application process for your Kentucky driver’s license, then you should make sure you pick up a copy of the Kentucky Driver’s Handbook and study it from cover to cover. It contains all of the information you’ll need to know in order to pass your written knowledge exam. You may also wish to skim the following FAQ for a better idea of what you can expect from the application process, as well as the process of dealing with the Kentucky DMV in general.
How old do I have to be before I can get a Kentucky driver’s license?
In Kentucky, you need to be at least 16 years of age before you can begin the process of applying for driving privileges, as that is when you’ll be eligible for your learner’s permit.
What documents do I need to bring with me in order to complete the process?
Every person looking to apply for a Kentucky driver’s license must show a collection of state-accepted documents before they’ll be approved. They include:
  • Legal proof of your name and date of birth
  • Proof of your social security number
  • Proof of your residency in the state of Kentucky
  • If you are under 18, a school compliance verification form
Most people bring their birth certificate to prove their name and date of birth, their social security card to prove their social security number, and something like a bank statement or a utility bill to prove state residency. However, there are certainly acceptable alternatives. If you are unsure as to whether or not something you want to bring will be considered acceptable, contact a DMV rep ahead of time for guidance.
What tests will I be expected to pass when I first apply for my Kentucky driver’s license?
At the time you come to apply for your license and get your permit, you’ll need to pass your written knowledge exam, as well as your vision test. Make sure you’ve studied thoroughly and arrive wearing any prescription eyewear you require. Try studying with a good practice test designed to mimic the actual test-taking experience to maximize your chances of passing your written knowledge exam on the first try.
I’m an underage driver. Do my parents have to bring me when I apply for my license or can I come on my own?
Your parent or legal guardian needs to sign your application before it can be processed, so most teens do choose to simply have the person accompany them when they apply. However, if that’s not possible for any reason, you can obtain an application ahead of time and have your parent sign it in front of a notary. Then any licensed driver 21 years of age or older may bring you to your appointment.
Will I need to pass a physical to get my license?
No. Some states require new drivers to pass a physical before they’ll be granted driving privileges. However, Kentucky is not one of them. All you need to worry about is passing your vision exam.
Once I have my learner’s permit, what’s next on the agenda?
Once you successfully obtain your Kentucky learner’s permit, it will be time to start practicing for your road test. You will need to obtain a total of at least 60 hours of behind the wheel practice (with 10 of those occurring at night) under the supervision of a licensed driver that is at least 21 years of age. You will also need to have held your permit for a certain length of time before you can take your road test and get your license. If you’re under the age of 21, you’ll need to hold your permit for at least 180 days. If you’re over 21, it’s 30 days.
Do I need to bring a vehicle in order to take my road test or will one be provided for me?
You will need to provide your own vehicle, so make sure you have a licensed driver bring you to the test in this vehicle. Said vehicle must be 100% road safe and in compliance with all Kentucky state safety laws. It also must be properly registered and insured. Make sure you don’t forget to bring documentation that attests to this!
What can I expect when I take my road test? What happens if I fail?
Your road test is designed to assess your proficiency when it comes to a number of common driving maneuvers. They include but are not limited to parallel parking, backing up, ability to change lanes, and hill starts. You’ll also be evaluated on your general level of confidence behind the wheel, as well as your ability to safely share the road with other drivers. To pass, you need to achieve a score of 80%. However, you will fail automatically if you happen to commit any traffic violation or wind up involved in a collision. Should you fail your road test for any reason, you must wait one week before you can retake it. Should you fail 6 times in a row, you will not be allowed to retake the test for another 6 months. Past that point, you will only be allowed another 2 tries before you are denied driving privileges altogether.
I’m new to Kentucky. What do I need to know about transferring an out-of-state license?
Once you become a Kentucky resident, you have 30 days to get your out of state driving privileges transferred over. (You must be at least 16 years old to simply transfer your license.) You must also:
  • Provide the DMV with proof of your residency in Kentucky such as a utility bill, rental agreement, or property tax bill.
  • Surrender your out of state license
  • Take and pass both a written knowledge test and a vision test
  • Provide a copy of your driving record or a clearance record from your previous states of residence (if your license has been expired for a year or longer)
  • Pay the required licensing fee
Most people don’t have to retake their road test, but be aware that the DMV reserves the right to ask you to if it’s deemed necessary.
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