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

Wisconsin uses a graduated licensing program to help teens and new drivers understand road rules and gain valuable experience when getting behind-the-wheel.

The GDL program includes three steps:

  • Learner’s/instructional permit
  • Provisional/intermediate license
  • Unrestricted (adult) license

You are here because you want to learn how to get a learner’s permit in Wisconsin. This process isn’t difficult if you’re patient and follow the steps detailed in this guide.

Getting a Learner’s Permit in Wisconsin: How It’s Done

A learner’s permit is a requirement regardless of age if you plan to get an unrestricted license.

  • Those under 18 will complete the application, tests, and a driver’s education course
  • Those over 18 can apply and hold their learner’s permit for 7-days before moving onto a provisional license

Those coming from out-of-state will need to surrender their license and apply for a new one within 60-days of residency. Requirements are largely the same so follow along with the guide below or give your local DMV a call to hear your specific details.

New drivers will visit their local WA DMV office when applying.

Under 18

  1. Be at least 15 years and 6 months old
  2. Be enrolled in a driver’s education program
  3. Have an adult sponsor & sponsor’s proof of insurance
  4. Be enrolled in a school program
  5. Provide proof of ID & SSN
  6. Provide proof of Wisconsin residency
  7. Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application (MV3001)
  8. Pass the knowledge, sign, and vision tests
  9. Pay the $35 driver licensing fees

Over 18

  1. Provide proof of ID & SSN
  2. Provide proof of Wisconsin residency
  3. Complete the Wisconsin Driver License Application (MV3001)
  4. Pass the knowledge, sign, and vision tests
  5. Pay the $35 driver licensing fees

The driver’s education course includes classroom and driving instruction.

You are required to take this if applying for a learner’s permit when going through the GDL program. The written/knowledge tests are easy to ace if you use practice tests and study your driver’s handbook or use online practice tests.

Driving Restrictions

The permit has a few restrictions — including:

  • Always be accompanied by a driver with at least 2-years of experience
  • Only immediate family members may be passengers (in the back seat)

Likewise, always respect road rules and avoid any incidents that may incur traffic violations and other penalties as this may restrict your ability to continue licensing.

Behind-the-Wheel Practice and Requirement

Permit holders must complete the following before they can upgrade their license:

  • Begin doing their driving experience within 60-days of getting a permit
  • If under 18: 30-hours of supervised experience in addition to driver’s ed

Drivers will log these hours in a supervised driving log they’ll later submit.

Next: Upgrading to a Provisional License

A learner’s permit turns into a probationary (provisional) license after 6-months. You will return to the DMV to complete your application. Doing so puts you one step closer to getting an unrestricted license.

Ready to upgrade? See our Wisconsin Provisional Licensing Guide for the details.