Driver's License Examination
Examination includes a knowledge test, including ability to read and understand highway signs, a driving skills demonstration test, and a vision test (20/40 visual acuity required).
Graduated Driver's Licensing
Wisconsin has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.
At 15 years and 6 months of age, after passing a knowledge test, individuals are eligible for an instruction/ learner’s permit.
- During this stage, individuals may drive only when supervised by a parent or guardian or a person meeting the requirements of those permitted to travel with the holder of an instruction permit.
- Drivers must hold this permit for at least 6 months and accumulate at least 30 hours (10 at night) of parent/guardian supervised driving.
- Permittees may not operate a motor vehicle during the hours of darkness unless accompanied by a qualified instructor or licensed person who is 25 years of age or more, has at least 2 years of licensed driving experience, and is occupying the front passenger seat.
At 16, upon successful completion of the permit stage, drivers are eligible for an intermediate license.
- Intermediate license holders may not drive unsupervised between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.
- Drivers may not transport more than 1 passenger (family members exempted).
Driver education is required for license applicants younger than 18.
After holding an intermediate license for 9 months, the nighttime and passenger restrictions are lifted, drivers are eligible for a full unrestricted license at age 18.
Driver's License Issuance/Application
An application for a license must include the full name and address of the applicant, the applicant’s date of birth, eye color, hair color, sex, height, weight, race, and social security number.
If an applicant is under the age of 18, the application must also include documentary proof that the applicant is enrolled in a school program or high school equivalency program, or has graduated from high school or is enrolled in a home-school program. The applicant must also have accumulated at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel driving experience, including 10 hours of driving during darkness, and the application must be signed by the applicant’s parent, step-parent, or adult sponsor.
A special restricted license may be issued to a person who is at least 14 and physically disabled, or at least 16 years old, and has passed all required examinations. Special restricted licenses are issued only for motor bicycles or mopeds, or specially designed vehicles having a maximum speed of 35 mph. A special restricted license expires 2 years after the date of issuance.
Non-residents who are at least 16 years of age and hold a valid driver’s license from their home jurisdiction need not apply for a Wisconsin driver’s license.
Persons operating a motor home, a vehicle towing a 5th-wheel mobile home, or a single-unit recreational vehicle need not obtain a commercial driver’s license if the vehicle is operated and controlled by the person and is transporting only members of the person’s family, guests, or their personal property.
Licenses must be carried at all times while operating a motor vehicle.
Licenses must include color photograph. Social security number is not required.
A restricted license may be issued to a person under 18 but at least 14 years of age if the DOT is satisfied that it is necessary to allow the applicant to operate a vehicle, the applicant has appeared in person with his or her parent or guardian with a birth certificate showing the applicant to be at least 14 years of age, and the applicant has passed all necessary examinations. A restricted license is valid until the applicant obtains a regular driver’s license or reaches the age of 18 and does not permit operation of any authorized vehicle during the hours of darkness.
Driver’s License Renewal
All original licenses, reinstated licenses, and probationary licenses expire 2 years from the date of the applicant’s next birthday. All other licenses and license endorsements expire 8 years after the date of issuance.
A renewal photograph must also be taken every 8 years.
The DOT is responsible for mailing a notice of expiration at least 30 days in advance to the licensee’s last known address.
Upon change of address or name, a licensee must apply for a duplicate license within 10 days of the change.
Any license issued to a person on active military duty does not expire. Active duty military licenses expire 30 days after return to Wisconsin or 90 days after discharge from active duty, whichever is earlier. This extension does not apply to military dependents.
Types of Driver's Licenses
Driver’s licenses are separated into the following classes:
- Class A: Commercial license permits the operation of any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) rating of over 26,000 lbs. if the GVW rating of the vehicle or vehicles being towed is in excess of 10,000 lbs.
- Class B: Commercial license permits the operation of any single vehicle with a GVW rating of over 26,000 lbs. and any such vehicle towing a vehicle or vehicles with an aggregate GVW rating of 10,000 lbs.
- Class C: Commercial license permits the operation of any single vehicle with a GVW rating of 26,000 lbs. or less, including any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVW rating of less than 10,000 lbs. if the vehicle is designed to transport more than 16 passengers or the vehicle is transporting hazardous materials.
- Class D: Permits operation of any motor vehicle not included in Class A, B, C, or M.
- Class M Permits operation of a motorcycle.