Hawaii Learner’s Permit: A Guide for New Drivers

The state of Hawaii uses a graduated licensing program to ease new drivers behind-the-wheel. This program includes stages with different requirements and restrictions to help drivers understand road rules and get ample practice.

Hawaii has three stages to the GDL program:

  • Learner’s permit
  • Provisional license
  • Unrestricted license

The first step in this process is getting a learner’s permit.

In this guide, you’ll learn your requirements and steps needed to get a permit. You’ll also get insight about what you’ll do before upgrading your license as part of the licensing program.

How to Get a Learner’s Permit in Hawaii

There are 4 counties in Hawaii – each with different requirements, rules, and regulations. You will follow your county’s rules when applying for a permit. Therefore, this guide is more of a generalized approach to getting one – giving you enough information to get started.

You can get a learner’s permit when you turn 15 ½ years old.

The application process goes like this:

  1. Find your nearest Hawaii DMV office (use our directory)
  2. Request and file your county’s Driver’s License Application
    1. Note: Your parents/guardian may need to sign the application
  3. Submit your proofs:
    1. Identity
    2. Residency
    3. Legal presence
    4. Social Security number
  4. Pay for the permit application:
    1. Honolulu: $5
    2. Other counties: $10
  5. Take and pass your written test

Sometime during the learner’s permit, you are expected to take a driver’s education course. This is done 180 days after you have the learner’s permit. Likewise, you’ll need to gain behind-the-wheel practice during your tenure with the permit (see below).

Driving Restrictions with a Permit

A Hawaii learner’s permit has a few restrictions:

  • No driving between 11 PM and 5 AM
  • A licensed driver (21+) must be in the passenger seat and licensed for the vehicle

Of course, you’ll also need to respect any and all road rules.

Behind-the-Wheel Requirements

You’re expected to get practice between the time you get the permit and provisional.

You will complete 50 hours of behind-the-wheel experience. Of these, 10 hours are driving at night. You will have a licensed adult accompany you whenever driving. And, you’ll log your driving experience with a Behind-the-Wheel Student Completion Certificate (HDOT DE-21) form.

Upgrading to a Provisional License

Your permit is valid for 1 year from the date it’s issued. This gives you ample time to get behind-the-wheel experience and pass your driver’s education course. You can renew and extend the permit at least 30 days before its expiration else you’ll wait an extra 180 days before you can upgrade (road test).

Once you’ve completed your permit requirements:

Read our Hawaii Provisional Licensing Guide and return to the DMV to begin upgrading.