A driver’s license is an official document, usually a plastic card, that permits an individual to operate one or more types of motorized vehicles.
In the United States, each state, territory, and the District of Columbia issues driver’s licenses instead of the federal government. Drivers are typically required to obtain a license from their state of residence. Each state’s driver’s license has a different look unique to that state. All states recognize each other’s licenses for non-resident age requirements.
Laws related to driver licensing vary between jurisdictions. Sometimes a permit is issued after the recipient has passed a driving test but in other jurisdictions, a person must acquire a permit before getting behind the wheel. The age at which a person can receive a license and the difficulty of the driving test vary between jurisdictions as well. Different types of motor vehicle licenses, such as commercial licenses (CDL’s) and motorcycles, will have different requirements as well.
Most states have a graduating licensing law that restricts certain driving privileges for new, young drivers. New drivers under the age of 18 typically receive a provisional license. A provisional license functions the same as a regular license but has restrictions such as limiting the number of passengers in the car and a curfew for the driver. Restrictions and the length of the license varies between states. An unrestricted license is the one that most drivers have that does not have the attached restrictions that a provisional license has.
The minimum age to obtain a restricted driver’s license ranges from 14 years and three months in South Dakota to 17 years old in New Jersey. The majority of states have a minimum age of 16 years old.
The cost of getting a driver’s license varies greatly by jurisdiction. Prices range from $10 in Missouri to $89.00 in Washington. Some states have separate license renewal fees. Additionally, licenses expire after a set number of years, which also varies depending on the issuing state.
Below are the costs to obtain a driver’s license in every state and how long a driver’s license is valid before it expires.