Driver’s License Examination
Every applicant for a driver’s license must include a test of the applicant’s eyesight (20/40 visual acuity required), ability to read and understand highway signs, traffic laws, knowledge of the effects of drugs and alcohol while driving, knowledge of a driver’s ability to safely and legally operate a motor vehicle, and an actual demonstration of the driver’s ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable care while driving the vehicle. The examination can also include anything else that the Department deems necessary.
The examination will be given either in the county where the applicant resides or at a place that is reasonably convenient to the applicant.
If the applicant has a valid driver’s license from a jurisdiction (including the U.S. Armed Forces) that gives a comparable driving examination, the Department can waive the requirement that the applicant demonstrate the ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in the operation of a motor vehicle.
A driver’s license can be renewed when the applicant has passed an eye examination.
The Department may require any examination to determine the incompetence, physical or mental disability or disease of any licensed driver, or any conditions which would affect the driver from exercising reasonable and ordinary control over the motor vehicle. If, as a result of the examination, the Department believes that the driver is an unsafe person to operate a motor vehicle, the Department may cancel the driver’s license.
No examination shall be required only for the reason that any licensed driver has attained a certain age.
Graduated Driver’s Licensing
Minnesota has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.
At age 15, an individual is eligible for an instruction/learner’s permit. A permit can be issued if that person meets the following requirements: (1) has completed a driver’s education course in another state, has previously been issued a valid license from another state, or is enrolled in a certified driver education program that includes classroom and behind the wheel training; and (2) has completed the classroom phase of instruction in the driver education program and has passed an eye examination, and has passed a knowledge test.
- The permit enables a person to operate a motor vehicle, but the applicant must be accompanied by a certified driver education instructor, the permit holder’s parent or guardian, or another licensed driver 21 years of age or older. The adult licensed driver must be sitting in the passenger seat next to the permit holder.
- Instruction permit holders must accumulate at least 40 hours (15 at night) of parental/guardian certified driving. Instruction permit holders must provide an approved supervised driving log, plus 10 additional driving hours unless the primary driving supervisor has a certification of supplemental parental curriculum.
At age 16, after holding the instruction/learner’s permit for 6 months, drivers are eligible for a provisional license.
- Provisional license holders may not drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.
- Provisional license holders are allowed no more than 1 passenger under age 20 for first 6 months of licensure, and no more than 3 passengers under age 20 for the next 6 months. Family members are exempt.
A person under 18 years of age is eligible for a driver’s license under 1 of the following conditions: (1) the applicant has a valid license from another state; or (2) the applicant has held a provisional license for 12 consecutive months before the license application and has incurred no conviction for a crash-related moving violation, and not more than 1 conviction for a moving violation that is not crash-related; and the application is approved by a parent or guardian.
Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18.
Driver’s License Issuance/Application
Every application for an instruction permit, for a provisional license, or for a driver’s license must be made on a form prescribed by the Department, and every application must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.
First-time Minnesota applicants must present a primary and a secondary form of identification to verify both identity and residency status.
Visitors who are in the U.S. as temporary residents will have the words “Status Check” and a visa expiration date on their state-issued cards. Proof of extended authorization to remain in the country will be required when the authorization date indicated on a card expires. Immigrants granted permanent or indefinite residency will not have a status check designation appear on their state-issued cards.
Social Security Numbers are not displayed on licenses.
License includes a color photograph. All applicants must have a full-face photograph taken, with the face unobscured, as part of the identification process. This does not require the complete removal of headwear. However, individuals are required to pull headwear back far enough so as not to obscure the face.
Out-of-state driver’s licenses are viewed as secondary identification documents.
An applicant who is over 18 years of age who received an instruction permit, and has not been previously licensed to drive in Minnesota or any other jurisdiction, must possess the instruction permit for at least 3 months.
Any valid driver’s license issued to a person on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces, or the person’s spouse, is effective without requirement for renewal until 90 days after the date of the person’s discharge from the service.
Driver’s License Renewal
The license expiration date for drivers under the age of 21 is the 21st birthday of the licensee.
The license expiration date for drivers over the age of 21 is the birthday of the driver in the 4th year following the date of issuance of the license.
Types of Driver’s Licenses
There are 4 classes of Driver’s licenses: D, C, B, and A.
A Class D license holder can drive the following vehicles: (1) all farm trucks operated by the owner, an immediate family member of the owner, or an employee of the owner within 150 miles of the farm; (2) an authorized emergency vehicle; (3) recreational equipment that is operated for personal use; (4) all single vehicles except vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of more than 26,000 lbs., vehicles designed to carry more than 15 passengers including the driver, and vehicles that carry hazardous materials. The holder of a Class D license may also tow vehicles if: the towed vehicle(s) has a GVW of 10,000 lbs. or less; or (2) the combination of vehicles has a GVW of 26,000 lbs. or less.
A Class C license holder can drive the following vehicles: (1) all Class D vehicles; (2) Class D vehicles with a hazardous material endorsement; and (3) with a passenger endorsement, operating buses; and with a passenger endorsement and school bus endorsement, operating school buses.
A Class B license holder can drive the following vehicles: (1) all Class D and C vehicles; (2) all other single-unit vehicles including, with any passenger endorsement, buses; and (3) can tow vehicles with a GVW of 10,000 lbs. or less.
A Class A license holder can drive any vehicle or combination of vehicles.