Any New York resident wishing a driver's license will need to take the permit test in New York. This test, if passed successfully, gives the individual a learner permit. With the permit, they can practice driving until they are ready to take their road test.
Although some people just walk into the New York DMV to take the test, hoping for the best, it's always better to get an overview of the examination first. The test has 20 multiple-choice questions and 14 correct answers or better is a passing score.
Learning to Drive in New York
Becoming a licensed New York driver starts with beginning to learn to drive. The procedure in New York looks pretty similar to the learning-to-drive procedure anywhere.
An individual age 16 or older can sit for a written New York state learner's permit test. If they pass, they have earned a driving permit and can practice driving while supervised by a licensed driver over the age of 21. An individual with a learner permit has to complete 50 hours of supervised driving before sitting for a driving test.
Where the learner can drive with a permit is limited; they cannot drive:
- On any street inside a park in New York City.
- On any tunnel or bridge that is under the jurisdiction of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.
- On the Cross County, Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River or Taconic State Parkways in Westchester County.
Other restrictions apply in different areas of the state. For example, on Long Island, the learner may not drive between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Understanding the Permit Test
The permit test must be taken in person at a New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office. No on-line testing is available.
If English is not the test-taker's first language, they are permitted to take the permit test in a number of other languages. It is offered in 14 different languages, so be sure to ask for the exam in whichever language is easiest to comprehend.
Number of Permit Test Questions
There are exactly 20 questions on the New York permit driving test. All of the questions on the test are multiple choice, with four possible answers. In order to pass the permit test, the test-taker has to correctly answer 14 questions, which is 70 percent. If an individual misses more than six questions, they won't be eligible for a learner permit.
At least four of the 20 questions on the permit test involve road signs. In addition to correctly answering 14 questions, the test-taker has to correctly answer two of the four questions on the topic of road signs.
Repeat Testing Permitted
Many people are not able to ace the test the first time they take it, so an individual who fails should not be discouraged; they are allowed to take the test again at no additional cost. In fact, in New York state, an individual is permitted to take the written driving test an unlimited number of times.
On the other hand, anyone who fails the test three times in a row is required to take a time-out. They must wait six months before re-taking the test a fourth time. It's probably worth the time to study the New York State Driver’s Manual and take some practice tests before jumping back in.
After the Permit Test
Anyone under the age of 18 must wait at least six months after earning their learner permit before taking the New York state driving exam, also called the road test. This test is offered in-person only and is not a written examination.
During the six-month waiting period, the individual must practice driving and be able to document the completion of a certified pre-licensing course or driver’s education class.
Those under the age of 18 must show that they have driven 50 hours under the supervision of an adult over the age of 21, 15 hours of which must have been after sunset, and 10 hours of which must have been in moderate to heavy traffic. This information must be provided on an MV-262 form and signed by a parent or guardian.
What to Bring to Your Road Test
When it is time to take the road test, it's important to bring proof of the pre-licensing course or driver’s education course completion and present it to the licensing examiner.
Those under the age of 18 also need to have the MV-262 form and be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age. Make sure to have the learner permit on hand as well as a registered, operable vehicle in which to take the test.
The test examiner will let the individual know, as soon as they complete the test, whether they have passed. If so, they will receive a temporary license from the examiner.
Motorcycle Permit Testing
It is not required to hold a New York state driver's license or permit of any kind before obtaining a motorcycle permit.
However, anyone applying for both a motorcycle learner permit and another sort of learner permit, such as for a Class D license to operate a typical passenger car or a CDL permit to drive commercial vehicles, it is recommended to first apply for the non-motorcycle permit. That way the individual already has general driving skills knowledge.
Motorcycle Study Guide
Before heading to the DMV to take a motorcycle permit test, those who have not obtained a non-motorcycle permit should study the New York State Motorcycle Operator's Manual. Even those with a driving permit will need to study the motorcycle driving sections.
Taking the Motorcycle Permit Test
To pass the motorcycle permit test, an individual must correctly answer 80 percent of all of the questions, 50 percent of the road sign questions, and 60 percent of the motorcycle questions.
As is the case with the automobile permit test, an individual can retake the motorcycle permit test as many times as they like. There is no charge for repeat testing.
To move forward and get your motorcycle license (a Class M license in New York), the next step is to schedule a motorcycle road test. Anyone who doesn't already have another class of New York driver's license must complete a driver education or pre-licensing course ahead of the exam.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.