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How to Get a New York Driver's License

Get Licensed to Drive in New York City


New York is one of the few cities that is easy to live in without a car. Many New Yorkers rely exclusively on public transportation and foot power to get around every day.

However, there are certainly times when a car can make life in New York City a whole lot easier. All you really require to drive is one thing: A New York Driver’s License.

If you’re over 18 and plan to become (or already are) a resident of New York State, a driver's license is a requirement for getting behind the wheel. Here's the scoop on how to get your New York State driver license:

1) Get Your Learner's Permit

In order to take the steps necessary to become a licensed driver, you must first obtain a learner's permit by passing a written test. Any branch of the New York State Department of Moter Vehicles (DMV) offers the written test, which is a general review of basic traffic laws. Manuals for review are available online and at DMV locations.

There are 4 Manhattan DMV locations: 11 Greenwich Street, 159 East 125th Street (3rd floor), 1293-1311 Broadway (8th floor), and 300 West 34th Street. Get directions to all New York City DMV locations.

2) Take A Driving Class

Now that you’ve got the permit, you are allowed to be at the wheel of a car with a licensed driver in the passenger seat and it’s time to practice. Driver’s ed is not just for high school and classes are available all over the city.

Driver’s education classes will teach you basic driving skills like K-turning and parallel parking. In addition to the actual driving, classes include an educational course, coupled with driving safety videos and occasional written quizzes. The educational part of the program should equal around 5 hours, and is required to obtain a MV-278 certificate, which is necessary to schedule your road test.

With regards to your actual driving time, the DMV recommends that all potential applicants have a minimum of 50 hours of supervised practice driving before they take their road tests, with at least 15 hours of practice driving at night (after sunset). It is also recommended that at least 10 hours of supervised practice driving be in moderate to heavy traffic.

3) Pass The NYS Driver's License Road Test

Scheduling your road test is as easy as visiting the DMV website or calling to make your apointment. There are three types of road tests -- the standard Automobile test, the commercial driver license (CDL) test, and the motorcycle test.

You are not required to take the road test in your home county or the county where your permit was issued, but not all types of road tests are available at all locations.

To schedule your road test online, you will need the Client ID number from your learner's permit or driver license, your date of birth, your MV-278 pre-licencing course certificate or from MV-285 driver education certificate (not needed if you already have another class of NYS driver license), and the ZIP Code of the location where you plan to take the road test. Find the ZIP codes, directions to the sites, and the types of tests given for all New York City road test sites. You may also schedule by phone by calling 518-402-2100.

Each road test consists of about 10 minutes of driving, including 1 parallel parking test (that’s right, in New York City you must pass parallel parking to get your license), 1 K-turn or three-point turn, and at least 3 stops.

4) Get Your Driver License

Once you pass your road test (congratulations!), you’ll receive a receipt from your instructor and an interim license. This interim license, coupled with your permit, is proof of your status as a licensed driver. Your official license will arrive in the mail in approximately 4 weeks.

Each new driver has a six-month probationary period that begins on the date you pass your road test. The DMV will suspend your driver license if you commit specific violations during your probationary period.

5) If You Fail Your Driver's Test

The New York City Driver’s Test is notoriously difficult and not everybody passes the first time. In case of a failing test, you have another chance to schedule and re-take the test.

If you fail the road test twice, you can pay a fee of $10 and retake the test at least twice more. You can continue to pay a fee of $10 and take two more road tests until you pass.

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