Get a driver license
New York State residents age 16 or over can apply for a New York driver license.
Step 1: Determine what license you need
Most people get a class D - Operator (if 18 or older) or a DJ - Junior Operator (if under 18). See instructions to get a
- commercial license (CDL)
- enhanced license (EDL) for cross-border travel
- class M - motorcycle license
- class E - taxi or limousine (livery) license
Read about different types of New York State driver licenses.
Step 2: Get a learner permit
Before you can get a license, you must apply for a learner permit at DMV office and take the written test. You can prepare by reading the New York State Driver's Manual and taking practice tests.
Learn how to apply for a learner permit.
Step 3: Practice driving and take a pre-licensing course
Once you have a learner permit, you must have supervised driving practice and you must take a pre-licensing course or a driver education course before you take your road test. For more information.
Step 4: Pass a road test
If you pass your test, the examiner will give you an interim license that allows you to drive. Keep the interim license with your photo learner permit until your new license arrives in the mail (in about 2 weeks).
See how to schedule & take a road test.
Replace, renew, restore or exchange
See how to renew your license.
Exchange out-of-state license
If you are you under 18
Graduated license law
If you are under age 18 or are the parent of a driver under age 18, it is very important that you understand the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Law and the restrictions on drivers under age 18.
Senior license before 18
If you are 17, you are eligible for a senior driver license (Class D or M) if you have a junior driver license or limited junior driver license and have completed a state-approved high school or college driver education course. To change your junior license to a senior license, bring your junior license and the Student Certificate of Completion (MV-285) that you received from your instructor to any DMV office. You must return your certificate and junior license to receive the senior license. If you do not change your junior license to a senior license, you are subject to the restrictions for junior drivers until you are age 18, even if you carry the completion certificate with you. You can also give your certificate with your junior permit to the license examiner at your road test.
When you turn 18
If you are not eligible for a senior license before you turn 18, you will automatically receive a senior license in the mail when you turn 18.
Probationary period for new drivers
Once you pass your road test or restore a revoked driver license, you will have 6 month probationary period. During this time, your license will be suspended for 60 days if you are convicted of any the following
- participating in a speed contest
- reckless driving
- following too closely
- use of a mobile telephone
- use of a portable electronic device (for example a smart phone, tablet, GPS or MP3 player)
- any 2 other moving violations
After the suspension ends, you will have a second 6 month probation period.
If you are convicted of one of the violations above (or 2 other moving violations) during the second probation period, your license will be revoked for at least 6 months. When the revocation ends, you must serve another a 6 month probationary period.
Your first license is valid for 5 years
For a Class D, Class DJ, and Class E driver license, the expiration date of your learner permit becomes the expiration date of your driver license. Together the learner permit and the driver license are valid for a maximum of 5 years. When you apply for a learner permit and a driver license, you pay the fee for the length of time that the documents are valid.
For example, a learner permit that was issued to you in 2008 will be valid until your birthday in 2013. You pay the fee for a document that is valid for 5 years. If you pass your road test in 2011, your driver license will expire in 2013. Your driver license keeps the expiration date of your learner permit. When you a change from a Class DJ junior license to a Class D senior license, the date does not change.
Drivers from other countries
You can drive in New York State with a valid driver license from another country. You don’t need to apply for a New York State driver license unless you become a New York State resident. 1
If you choose to get a New York driver license (following the steps explained on this page), when you pass your road test, you must give your foreign driver license to the DMV road test examiner. The local DMV office will destroy your foreign driver license after 60 days. If you plan to return to your home country and will need your foreign driver license, ask the road test examiner how to make sure that your foreign driver license is not destroyed.
- 1. Definition of Resident per Section 250 (5) of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law: "As used in this section, the term 'resident' shall mean domiciliary, that is, one who lives in this state with the intention of making it a fixed and permanent abode. It shall be presumptive evidence that a person who maintains a place of abode in this state for a period of at least ninety days is a resident of this state."
To live in a house, a home, an apartment, a room or other similar place in NYS for 90 days is considered "presumptive evidence" that you are a resident of New York State. A police officer can use this as evidence to issue a traffic ticket if you drive in New York State without a New York State driver license or vehicle registration.
A judge considers the law and the evidence of your intent and decides if you are a resident of New York State. If you pay taxes or your children attend school in another state, a judge considers these facts to decide if your intent is to make NYS a "fixed and permanent" residence. According to this law, students from other states or from other nations who attend school in New York State are usually not considered residents of NYS. DMV does not decide if you are a resident of New York State, if you must get a NYS driver license, or if you must register your vehicle in New York State.