Driver's License

A driver's license is a document or card that gives the legal authority for an individual to drive in the United States. If an individual operates a vehicle and is pulled over by a law enforcement officer, they will have to show their driver's license. If they do not have one, they will have severe repercussions that could prevent them from getting a driver's license in the future, or they will be required to pay a hefty fine. 

How Many Different Kinds of Driver's Licenses Are There? 

Depending on the state, there are many different kinds of driver’s licenses available. Some of the most common types of driver’s licenses are: 

  • Class A, Class B, Class C, and Commercial CDL Licenses: 

Class A licenses are for individuals over 21 years old. Class B or C licenses are for individuals over 18 years old. 

  • Operator Class D

Class D licenses enable an individual to drive larger passenger cars and trucks with a weight of fewer than 26,000 lbs. 

  • Taxi and Livery Class E

Class E licenses enable a driver to drive individuals for-hire with a maximum of 14 passengers in their vehicle. 

  • Motorcycle, Class MJ

Motorcycle Class MJ licenses enable an individual under 18 years old to drive a motorcycle, but with restrictions. 

  • Junior License, Class DJ

Junior Class DJ are licenses for new drivers under 18 that have specific restrictions. 

What Is Required to Get My Driver's License? 

There are several different requirements to get a driver's license. Each state has different requirements, and they vary depending on what kind of driver's license that you are applying to obtain. Below is a list of some of the most common requirements: 

Under 18 

Usually, when an individual is under 18, they are applying for their first driver's license. Some of the most common documents that they need to present are: 

  • Valid Social Security Card
  • Identification by a Photo ID or Passport 
  • Proof of State Residency
  • Proof of Citizenship (Birth Certificate or Passport) 

Individuals under 18 have to attend driving school for at least four full days, complete supervised driving courses, pass a written test, and pass a driving test. Typically, an individual will have a permit to learn for six months where their parents or an individual over 25 years old can supervise them. The earliest that they can obtain this permit is when they are 15.5 years old. Once they turn 16 or they have had a driving permit for six months, they can then apply to take their driving test and obtain their driver's license. 

Over 18

An individual that is over 18 has fewer requirements. Depending on the state, the permit written test can be waived and the requirement to attend driving school. Many times, the individual will practice driving and then take the driving test. The process is not as strict as it is for younger new drivers. 

Over 65

Once an individual reaches 65 years old, they will have to have annual license renewals in some states. This requirement helps to check their vision and clarity of mind to be sure that they are fit to drive safely. 

Is There a Driver's License for All States in the United States? 

Currently, there is a driver’s license required for all 50 states. However, this is starting to become an issue with people moving and frequently traveling in the United States. There is a process being rolled out of having a national ID card system that may include driver’s licenses in the next five to ten years. This new system will help individuals who have moved from one state to another not to have to renew their driver’s license each time they move. 

Driver's License Glossary Definition

Driver's Licenses are given to drivers by each state, which provides them with the legal right to drive in any state within the United States. It is essential to keep your driver's license current and to follow all requirements to renew it. Once a license is expired, it is complicated to renew it, which is why it is best to take care of all renewals in advance. In 2011, a study by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that 87% of individuals over 16 years old have driver’s licenses.