13 Automatic Fails on Driving Test

automatic fails on driving test

Knowing there are automatic failures on a driving test can stress you out. The stress about making a critical mistake during the road test is so great that you may blank out and fail before you begin! I should know because I failed my first driving test before I put the vehicle in reverse.

What can you do to avoid these automatic failures? Learn from the mistakes made by those before you.

What Counts as an Automatic Fail on Road Test?

A state’s graduated licensing programs help new drivers get experience behind the wheel. The road test typically happens around the time of the provisional license. So, you should have plenty of experience driving with a licensed adult – though that won’t always stop you from making critical mistakes when testing!

Some mistakes you can make during a DMV driving test count as “automatic failures,” meaning you won’t pass, nor will you get/upgrade your license that day. Bummer! So, be prepared…

1. Not Understanding the Vehicle

This is what happened to me: I blanked.

Your instructor will check if you understand the general use of the vehicle. This includes showing you can signal, turn on your lights, wear a seatbelt, and the other basics. You could blank, forget what does what, and seem a complete amateur to the instructor.

…that doesn’t start the testing on a good foot, and freezing up may have them telling you to come back another time when you’re ready and know the vehicle.

2. Failing to Observe when Engaging

Not Understand Vehicle

Not checking your mirrors and following safety procedures when backing out/pulling out from the parking space could result in you failing the test. It shows you aren’t paying attention and in the real world, this could cause an accident!

3. Rolling Through a Stop

Your test will involve frequent stops, so you can bet it’s an automatic failure if you cruise through a stop sign! This is a major failure to respect and follow road rules and safety.

When you see red, come to a complete stop, wait a few seconds, check for traffic, then proceed.

4. Riding the Double Line

I saw the person in front of me automatically fail as they pulled onto the testing course. They went over the double line and continued driving.

To the instructor, the new driver wasn’t following safety protocols, so there was no reason to continue the testing.

5. Improper Safety Demonstrations

Safe Driving Distance

Consider it an automatic driver test fail with events like safety demonstrations at/with:

In the real world, improper driving in these locations could cause serious harm to you and others. Otherwise, you’re looking at a major fine for speeding or improper control in these areas!

6. Causing an Accident

An accident could involve one another car, building, and pedestrian. Not only have you shown improper vehicle control, but you likely failed basic road safety rules.

The instructor furiously checks boxes since the accident probably resulted from multiple failures!

7. Unsafe Driving Conditions

Let’s say things like:

  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Texting on your phone
  • Not using headlights

You know better than to drive without a seatbelt, especially when texting behind the wheel.

Not using headlights can cause accidents involving you, other drivers, and pedestrians. If you can’t do these three things, can you honestly say you’re safe to operate a vehicle? Of course not!

8. Speeding

Your instructor will test your acceleration, stoppage, and vehicle maneuvers. Yet, this shouldn’t involve you exceeding the posted speed limit or their verbal commands.

Speeding isn’t tolerated in the real world, and it’s not tolerated during testing, either.

9. Poor Judgement of Traffic and Conditions

Whether it’s on a test track or on actual roads, you always need to practice safe driving.

This includes your awareness of drivers and situations around you – like:

  • Changing lights
  • Pedestrian crossing
  • Merging traffic
  • Road hazards
  • Failing to yield

…and more.

Showing no control of the situation or blindly driving into them doesn’t bode well for your driving test scores.

You can expect an automatic failure if you show these qualities throughout the exam.

10. Aggressive Behavior

Got a about of road rage? You need to cool it!

Bringing your rage to the driving test (and driving in general) isn’t a good way to begin your licensing journey.

Riding people, swerving without signaling, speeding, and bad-mouthing other drivers or instructors is getting you a big, fat fail on the driving test.

Recommended Read: Learn How Long Does it Take to Learn to Drive?

11. Texting and Driving

A professional driver must be aware of all potential road hazards, especially distracted driving, like texting while driving. This practice is a major contributor to road fatalities. Driving tests now address this issue and any driver who fails to acknowledge the danger and take necessary precautions would likely fail.

12: Driving to Slow

During a driving test, driving at slow speeds alone is not considered a fault as long as it is appropriate for the driving conditions. For example, driving slowly in a built-up area or in a school zone may be necessary for safety reasons. However, if a driver’s slow speed puts themselves or other road users in danger or causes significant delays, it may result in a minor or even a major fault. It’s essential to drive at a safe and appropriate speed, taking into account the traffic and road conditions at all times.

13: Braking too Hard and Cornering

Avoid Hard Braking and Cornering during driving test

When stopping or reducing speed, apply the brakes with moderate force to avoid throwing yourself or your passengers forward while still accomplishing the task. Abrupt braking should only be used in critical situations.

How Many Mistakes Can I Make on the Driving Test?

This varies by state, but most follow:

  • Not checking your blind spot
  • Failure to Yield at a Crosswalk
  • Making a rolling stop at a stop sign
  • Speeding more than 10 miles per hour
  • Failure to Yield on a  school bus

It’s given you’ll make a few mistakes in each of these areas. Everyone gets nervous the first time they do their tests. Yet, it’s a critical error to watch out for as they can cause automatic driver test failures.

Do You Fail if You Hit the Curb?

As a driver, hitting the curb can happen, even to the most professional drivers. Take responsibility, assess the damage, and learn from your mistakes to avoid similar occurrences in the future.


So, ensure you’re practicing with a licensed adult when possible. Read helpful guides like this one about automatic failures and driving testing. Consider signing up for a driver’s education course if you don’t have access to a vehicle for your behind-the-wheel practice.

All things considered, the best advice for any prospective driver is to prepare thoroughly and arrive at their driving test confident and knowledgeable. Even if mistakes are made during a driving test, it doesn’t mean a failure is certain. Staying positive, carrying out the request given by the instructor carefully and calmly, staying focused and committed to the task of becoming a licensed driver – these are all traits of a true road warrior.