How long can you drive on a learner's permit?


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Oct 30, 2023
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My niece who lives in Wisconsin, is currently driving on her learner's permit, she does not currently have a license and has driven with just this learner's permit. Is she legally allowed to drive alone? Or does she still need a licensed driver with her? Also, she is 22, and knows how to drive, just hasn't applied for a driver's test to finally get her license.

So is it possible for her to drive with just a driver's/learner's permit?
Wisconsin, United States
Wisconsin's restrictions on new drivers/teenagers seem pretty complicated compared to other states. FYI - the Wisconsin DMV has all the requirements/restrictions related to learner's permits posted on their website at this link.

It took me a few minutes to parse through all the language, but as far as I can tell your niece shouldn't be driving alone if she only has an instruction (aka "leaner's") permit. Here are the instruction permit passenger restrictions as stated on the Wisconsin DMV's website:

Drivers with a Class D instruction permit must be accompanied by a driver with at least two years licensed driving experience who currently holds a valid regular (not probationary or occupational) license. The accompanying driver must occupy the passenger seat beside the driver and be one of the following:
  • A qualified instructor age 19 or older, or
  • A parent, guardian or spouse, age 19 or older. In addition, immediate family members of the applicant may ride in the back seat, or
  • A person 21 years of age or older. If the permit holder is under 18 years old, the accompanying licensed person is required to have written authorization from the minor's parent or guardian prior to the operation of the vehicle.

To graduate to a probationary/regular driver's license, it looks like all your niece would have to do is pass a driving skills test and then apply. Hopefully that's on the horizon for her. At 22, not being able to drive alone would get old real fast for me.

Wisconsin's driver licensing program reminds me of our discussion of multi-tiered driving permits over on this thread. As complicated as Wisconsin's restrictions are, other states' multi-tiered programs seem to go even farther by restricting teenage driving based on factors such as level of education and school attendance.
I am not sure but I hear that in Wisconsin, you can drive on a learner's permit for maximum 12 months. During this time, you must complete a state-approved driver education course and log at least 30 hours of supervised driving. Of 30 hours of supervised driving, 10 hours should be driving at night.

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