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Graduated Driver License Program

What is the Graduated Driver License Program?

Tennessee’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program is a multi-tiered program designed to ease young novice drivers into full driving privileges as they become more mature and develop their driving skills. By requiring more supervised practice, the State of Tennessee hopes to save lives and prevent tragic injuries. Tennessee’s GDL Program started on July 1, 2001.  It places certain restrictions on teens under the age of 18 who have learner permits and driver licenses. The program requires parent/legal guardian involvement, and emphasizes the importance of a good driving record.

The Graduated Driver License law provides for three phases of licensing for teens under 18 years of age:

  • Learner Permit
  • Intermediate Restricted License
  • Intermediate Unrestricted License

The procedures for obtaining a driver license for those under the age of 18 are covered in Section A-3 of the Comprehensive Driver Manual. Review Section A-3 of the Comprehensive Driver Manual for additional information on the Graduated Driver License Program.

How do I get a Learner Permit or Intermediate License?

For the issuance of a Tennessee Learner Permit:

  • Must be at least 15 years of age
  • Pass a standard vision screening.
  • Pass the Class D knowledge exam. Practice exams are available online.
  • If you are under the age of 18, you will also need to have:
    • A parent or legal guardian (with proof of guardianship) present to sign a minor/teenage affidavit and financial responsibility form.
    • Show proof of school attendance/progress from a current Tennessee school or a letter from the school in your previous state that confirms your attendance and satisfactory progress during enrollment in that school. This letter must be signed and dated by the principal or guidance counselor no more than 30 days prior to your Tennessee application.
  • Provide all required documentation.

For the issuance of a Tennessee Intermediate Driver License:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Must have held a valid learner permit for a minimum of 180 days.
  • Must have 50 hours of behind the wheel driving experience (including 10 hours of night driving).
    A 50-Hour Certification form must be signed by your parent, guardian or driving instructor confirming this experience.
  • Pass a road skills test.
  • Provide all required documentation.
  • A vision screening will be required only if you are exchanging a learner permit or license from another state.

What documents will you need to bring?

PLEASE NOTE: All documents are subject to verification with the issuing agency or source. Documents subject to verification may delay the issuance of your permit, driver license or identification only license.

No photocopies will be accepted!

For a Learner Permit or Intermediate Driver License you will need to bring:

Helpful Links

Where do you go to get your license?

Download the Driver License Manual

The Comprehensive Driver License Manual is designed for all current and potential drivers in Tennessee and will help new and old drivers alike get ready for initial, renewal, and other license applications by explaining:

  • the different types of licenses available
  • the documentation and other requirements for license applications
  • details on Intermediate Driver Licenses and how this graduated driver license works for driver license applicants under age 18
  • basic descriptions of the tests required for a Driver License

It also includes information needed to pass the knowledge tests for a Class D Tennessee driver license. You will need to study this manual to prepare for a knowledge or road skills test.