Tennessee Learner’s Permit: A First-Time Teen Driver Guide

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Tennessee provides miles and miles of open road, it’s no wonder a teen can’t wait to start driving! Before they can, teens need to apply and pass Tennessee learner’s permit requirements.

The learner’s permit is part of the state’s graduated licensing program. This program helps new drivers ease into driving through testing and practice. After the permit, teens can upgrade to an intermediate restricted or unrestricted license – these eventually become an adult, unrestricted license.

This post shares what items teens need to present and how the steps required for earning their license.

Applying for a Tennessee Driving Permit

Teens aged 15 can begin applying for their driving permit.

Tennessee requires first-time drivers apply for their learner’s permit in-person at a Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) office.

At the DMV, teens will need to:

  1. Submit a Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation (SF-0259)
  2. Submit proof of school attendance (choose one):
    1. Submit the SF-1010 form
    2. Show your HS diploma or GED
  3. Show proofs:
    1. Identification
    2. TN residency
    3. S. lawful presence
    4. Social Security Number (or SS Affidavit SF-1324 form)
  4. Pass your tests:
    1. Vision
    2. Knowledge
  5. Pay the $10.50 fee

The knowledge test is a multiple-choice test about traffic rules, signs, signals, safety, and drug/alcohol awareness. Teens can refer to their driving manual to study for the test. Else, they can use online TN knowledge tests to get an understanding of the topics.

For New TN Residents

New residents can do one of two things if they currently have a learner’s permit:

  • Apply for an intermediate given they’re 16 and had their permit for 180 days
  • Apply for a TN learner’s permit and follow the same steps (above)

New residents should complete these actions within 30 days of establishing residency.

TN Driving Permit Restrictions

The permit carries the following driving restrictions:

  • No driving between 10 PM and 6 AM
  • A licensed adult (21+) must accompany the driver

Behind-the-Wheel Experience

Those holding a learner’s permit should get 50 hours of driving experience. The 50 hours should include 10 hours of night driving. Likewise, the teen should not incur traffic violations else they may forgo their ability to upgrade the license until points clear.

Getting Your Provisional Driver’s License

Teens will hold their learners for 180 days and meet these requirements to get a provisional license:

  • Be 16 years old
  • Completed the behind-the-wheel practice
  • Have less than 6 points on their driving record

Ready for the next step? Click to go to our Tennessee Teen License Guide.