Sixteen is the minimum age for issuing driver’s license in most states, but there are states in which you can be younger and states where you need to be older. It wasn’t always the case.
The first licensed vehicle was in 1901 in New York and it took another seventeen years before all states issued license plates. Licensed drivers, however, were harder to come by, in 1935 for example only 39 states issued licenses and barely any needed a test.
There were no driving schools at this time, incidentally. People were taught by the YMCA, high schools and similar organizations. Even now, some schools still teach their students to drive. Even if your school does not, you may still be entitled to reduced insurance rates so it is worth starting early.
Types of Licenses
The license that most people own is called “unrestricted” which allows you to drive most vehicles, provided that you don’t ply for hire. The various types include restricted, chauffeur, motorcycle and so on, which some states call endorsements since they’re added to a basic driver’s license.
Hardship licenses are especially interesting in that they are for teenagers between 14 and 18 who have to drive themselves back and forth to school or work. They are issued if their family has medical or financial needs which prevent them from driving. There’s a different type of hardship license issued for those which would be otherwise a suspended or revoked unrestricted license.
The provisional license is another form of beginner’s license, issued to the newly qualified, usually between 14-17 years old. This type of license doesn’t let you drive at night or and restricts the number of passengers.
A chauffeur’s license is slightly misnamed as most states require them for other forms of passenger transport like a taxi or a tuk-tuk. Usually, you do have to be over 25 to be awarded this type of license.
You may also need CDL endorsement to drive specific vehicles, such as a tractor with a trailer or a bus. There are other types of endorsements needed for hazardous materials, vehicles carrying bulk liquids and so on. It’s very complex. For example, a liquid such as diesel is flammable & combustible which is an upgrade from mere flammable. It’s also an upgrade from a liquid endorsement, which requires extra stopping distance when transported in large quantities.
The test is both written and driving (or practical). There is an additional visual test required. It is recommended that if have glasses or contact lenses normally that you wear them for the test, as it is to give an idea of your usual driving state.
As well as these three parts there may be additional courses, for instance, drugs awareness, traffic awareness and so on.
It is also a good idea to know the validity of your driver’s permit and to get another one should you need it. They are conditional and they expire. (In other words, if something is stopping you getting a full driver’s license). Making a mistake while driving with a permit could result in a severe delay in getting your full license.
The advantage of owning an enhanced license doesn’t involve driving. It means that your license can be used as a document for establishing US nationality. Many states that border Canada have begun issuing this type of license to reduce the need for a passport when traveling to such a friendly neighboring nation.
You also need to show proof of identity in order to prove who you are and where you live. If you’re taking the test while under age 18 many states need proof that you are attending school.
The license is all about the freedom of the road, as long as you remember everyone else too!