In the State of New York, a resident must be at least 16 years old and have passed a high school or college driver’s education program in order to apply for a learner’s permit. Without school-sponsored driver’s education, a resident must be at least 17 years old and have graduated from a state-certified, commercial prelicensing course. In both these scenarios, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV) requires either an MV-285 or MV-278 form to be completed to apply for a driver's permit or junior license.
Whether receiving your driver's education through school or a commercial course, you are required by the NYSDMV to provide a Social Security card and proof of identity. If you do not have legal proof of identity, you must provide Form MV-45, signed by a parent or guardian, to swear to your legal name, residency and birthdate. If you already own a valid driver’s license in another vehicle class, you do not need to complete a driver's education program nor fill out form MV-278 or MV-285.
Fill out form MV-278 once you complete a five-hour prelicensing course with a state-certified driving instruction agency. If you are under 18, your parent or guardian must sign the consent portion of the application. Filing form MV-278 will grant a learner's permit that is valid for one year from the date it is issued; you must take your driver's test and the written text within this time period.
If you have completed a high school or college driver's education course, fill out form MV-285; if you are 17 or older, you do not need to provide parental consent. A learner's permit issued from a MV-285 application will be valid for two years after the date it is filed. In this case, you do not need to take the written test, but you must still take the driving test during the two-year time period.
As of November 2009, new drivers must have 50 hours of supervised driving time (instead of 30 hours, as was previously the case) before they can be issued a senior, or full, license. Additionally, teen holders of a driver’s permit may only transport one minor-aged non-family member at a time. These limitations apply to a new driver whether he applies for a learner’s permit with either form MV285 or MV278.