Driver Education: Where to begin?

First time? Don't worry. We're here for you. 

The process for getting your Indiana Driver's License isn't always completely straight forward, but the good news is that you don't have to go it alone.  We will be here to guide you every step of the way.

The biggest variable in the process is the age at which you or your child chooses to begin. The State of Indiana will allow you to begin Driver Education as soon as your 15th birthday. There is nothing saying that you can't enroll in advance of your birthday, but by law, a school can't issue any enrollment paperwork or allow you to begin a course before this. Some schools may actually offer you a discount for enrolling early, so while you are researching, make sure you ask about any early enrollment discounts.

Obtaining a permit at the Age of 15 and CDEs

So now that you or your child has hit that magical age of 15, they are ready to go to the BMV to get his or her permit, right? Well, yes and no. Before you take off for the BMV, you will need to make sure you have the necessary identification documents as well as a Certificate of Enrollment (CDE) from your driving school. This is another important question to ask prospective schools as you shop around and do your research. Be sure to find out when a school is willing to issue a CDE. Many schools will want to have you complete certain things before they will allow you to get the paperwork. If you are wanting to get your permit right away, you will want to make sure that the school you choose does not put additional restrictions on when you can get it. Generally, the idea of beginning Driver Education at the age of 15 is to get as much experience behind the wheel as possible before they get turned loose on the world. Creating additional hoops to be jumped through sort of defeats the purpose of enrolling early.

Obtaining a permit at 16 (or older)

Once you hit the ripe old age of 16, you can go ahead and make your way to the BMV to get your permit regardless of whether you are enrolled in Driver Education or not. Of course, you will still need the required identification documentation, but the need for a CDE to get your permit is eliminated. 

The Indiana Permit Test

Wait, a test? Of course you will need to pass a test to get your permit! The State wants make sure you have at least a basic understanding of traffic laws before you get behind the wheel, even with supervision.

So what should you expect from the Indiana permit test? Well, it is gong to be 50 multiple choice questions. 16 of these questions will be signs, and 34 questions will be based on other sections of the manual. Did you catch that last part? Every single question on the test comes directly from the Indiana Driver's Manual, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the manual before taking your test. Or, there is always the option of just winging it and taking the test so many times that you memorize all of the questions. Save yourself some time and effort. Read the manual.

When you are ready to take the permit test, you will just need to take all of your required documentation to the BMV and let them know you would like to take the test. You are not required to make an appointment for the test, but you do want to make sure that you do not arrive within the last hour that they are open, so for example, if they close at 5 you will want to be there before 4.

There is no cost to attempt the test, but if you do not pass, you will need to wait until the next day to try again. You can try as many times as necessary to pass the test.

I got my permit! Yay! Now what?

Congratulations! Once you have passed the test and received your permit, you have completed the biggest hurdle to getting  your license. For the most part, all that is left is time, and lots of practice.

From the day you earn your permit, there is a mandatory holding period of 180 days, or right at six months. In addition to this 180 day requirement, there is a also a minimum age that you must reach if you haven't done so already. As long as you complete Driver Education, you can be eligible at the age of 16 years and 90 days. If you do not choose to complete Driver Education, you will need to wait an additional 6 months and be 16 and 270 days. 

 In addition to the mandatory holding period and minimum age requirement, you will also need to complete and log a minimum of 50 practice hours while you have your permit. 40 of these hours will need to be during the day, with 10 of them at night. Any practice time you are able to get can count toward this requirement, whether you are driving to the store, going on a road trip, or attending your drive lessons with an instructor. Just make sure that you have the required supervision while you get your practice. You don't want to start your time as a driver with a ticket for driving illegally!

What about scheduling Drive Lessons?

The six hours with an instructor will need to be completed at some point after you have earned your permit, but you will not be completed with Driver Education until the lessons have been finished. Don't feel like you have to get them all done in a hurry though. Remember that you have at least 6 months before you can get your license, and if you get your permit on your 15th birthday, you have 15 months! Usually, as a guideline it would be a good idea to schedule the lessons about three months before your eligibility date. That will give you a minimum of 3 months to practice before you get with the instructor, and allow them to spend time during your lesson focusing on actual driving techniques rather than the most basic of knowledge. This is a good way to get the most for your money when you are in the car with the instructor.

Another benefit of scheduling this way is that you will be able to complete one lesson a week as recommended, allowing for time to practice and master the skills you learn during each lesson. Then, once you have completed the 6 lessons, you will be ready to go straight into the road test.

The Road Test 

So now you have taken and passed your permit test, held the permit for at least 6 months and are at least 16 and 90 days old. Great! You are so close to being a licensed driver! The final step is going to be to complete the Road Test. 

Having completed Driver Education, you will have the option of testing either with the BMV, or with your driving school. Taking this test at the BMV is free, however you will need to supply your own vehicle. Generally, completing the test with a driving school will be a small additional fee, but you will have the vehicle provided for you, and in many cases you can take the test with the same instructor that completed your lessons. The test itself will be the exact same whether you test with a school or at the BMV. Which is the better option can depend entirely on your preferences.

If you take the test at the BMV, you will be able to receive your license immediately after passing the test. If you test with your school, they should issue you paperwork that you can take to the BMV to trade in for your license.

That's it! You now have at least a basic understanding of the entire process. 

Still have questions? Don't be afraid to ask. Please contact us at (317) 602-8497 or by email at

Or, if you have it figured out, you can go ahead and get signed up and get started!

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