You passed the written knowledge test and then practiced maneuvering that car around the streets of your city. But before your state issues you a driver's license, the Department of Motor Vehicles wants to be sure you aren't a danger on the roads. The driving test is the way they figure this out.
Before the Driving Test
Nobody starts the down the road that leads to getting a driver's license just by taking a driving test. In some states, like Texas, anyone under the age of 25 must also attend a driver education class. And no matter what state you are in or how old you are, you must first take and pass a written test, also called the knowledge test.
It's generally a good idea to make an appointment with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) rather than just appearing at the door. But if you are willing to wait, you may be able to squeeze in for a written test on a walk-in basis.
Day of the Driving Test Documentation
The day of your driving test, show up early. Even with an appointment, you may have to wait in line to sign in. And some DMVs, like the Texas DMV, will cancel your test if you aren't there a full hour before your appointment. You'll need written verification of your appointment date and time as well as an acceptable photo ID.
Some states require that young people under the age of 18 prove that they are in high school, have graduated high school or have earned a GED. If your state mandates driver's education for someone your age, you'll need to bring proof that you successfully completed the training. Sometimes this must be on a state form, as is the case with New York, where you need either a Pre-Licensing Course Certificate or a Driver Education Certificate.
Bring Proof that You Have Passed the Written Test
Bring your driving permit or proof that you have passed the written test. Most states regulate how long you have to take a driving test after you've passed the written test. For example, in California you must pass the driving test within three months after you pass the written test.
Be sure your written test pass is still good in your state. After all, this is the DMV and they aren't likely to let you take the wheel if you aren't legal. And get an appropriate amount of supervised driving practice – the best way to prepare for your driving test is by extensive practice behind the wheel.
Read More: How Often Do You Have to Take the Written DMV Test if You Have Had No Tickets or Accidents?
An Automobile for the Test and Documentation for It
You'll need to bring a car to use for the driving test and present proof of current liability insurance. Most states require that this be in paper format and will not accept online proof via smart phone. Be sure that the vehicle has all equipment, especially safety equipment, required in your state. Special rules often apply to rental cars.
You must be listed as an authorized driver and show proof of insurance for the rented car. In most states, a car needs safety belts, license plates property attached to the front and back bumpers, rearview and side mirrors, operating headlights, brake lights and turn signals. During the driver's test in California, the examiner checks for these things, plus:
- A working horn.
- Working windshield wipers.
- Tires with no bald spots.
- Brakes with adequate brake pressure.
- A working heater.
- A working driver’s side window.
- An uncracked windshield with an unobstructed view for both you and the examiner.
- Front doors that open from both the inside and outside.
- A glovebox which is securely closed.
- A passenger seat permanently attached to the vehicle.
- A working emergency/parking brake.
Turn indicator lights must also be functional in most states although some, like Georgia, let you take the driving test even if your blinkers don't work, as long as you know how to use hand signals.
When you take your driving test, bring proof you passed driver's education, if that is required in your state. Everyone needs to bring written appointment confirmation, your driving permit or proof that you have passed your written test, a car to drive with all required safety equipment, evidence that the car is registered and insured, and a way to pay for the driving test fee.
- State of California Department of Motor Vehicles: Preparing for Your Driving Test (FFDL 22)
- DMV.org: Road Test FAQs
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Schedule Your Driving Test Appointment!
- New York State Department of Motor Vehicles: Prepare for Your Road Test
- Georgia Department of Driver Services: Test and Exams Information
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. 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 M.A. and an M.F.A in creative 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.