If you live in the Sunshine state and you need to get around, you’ll most likely be needing a state driver’s license. Luckily for you the process isn’t too complicated and we’ve broken down all the steps for you in this simple guide.
Whether you’re a brand new driver, or an experienced one - jump right in and find out what you need to get your Florida driver license below!
Types Of Driver’s Licenses In Florida
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) issues five different types of driver’s licenses. The type of license you’ll need to apply for will depend on the type of vehicle you want to operate. The following is a list of different classes of driver’s licenses:
Class E licenses
This is the most common license in Florida. With this document, you can drive non-commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight register (GVWR) of up to 26,000 lbs. This includes most personal vehicles and vans that hold up to 15 passengers (including the driver.) This license can also be used to ride motorcycles, but you’ll have to pass a special test, and your license will have “A-MTRCL” (also motorcycles) or “O-MTRCL” (only motorcycles) written on it.
Class E learner’s permits
This permit is granted to people under 18. You can apply for it when you turn 15. It allows you to drive a car weight up to 8,000 lbs. GVWR, and you have to be accompanied by someone over 21. You also can’t drive after 10:00 PM. The main purpose of this permit is to allow people to practice driving before getting a regular license. This permit also doesn’t include any type of motorcycle.
Class C licenses
Class C licenses are required for drivers who operate vehicles with a GVWR that exceeds 26,000 lbs. or vehicles that can fit up to 20 people. They’re also required for drivers who transport hazardous materials.
Class B licenses
Class B Florida driver's licenses allow the driver to operate vehicles that hold less than 15 people with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs.
Class A licenses
This license class allows drivers to operate vehicles with a gross weight over 26,000 lbs., as long as the hitched trailer makes up less than 10,000 lbs. of this total weight.
The Florida Driver’s Test
In order to guarantee the safety of drivers, passengers, and the public, the Florida state government requires that anyone applying for a driver's license to pass a practical driving exam and a theoretical test on traffic laws. Sometimes the test includes medical exams like a vision exam to test the applicant's physical abilities to drive.
Here are a few tips to help you pass your driver’s test:
- Watch this video and practice all the maneuvers in it.
- If you don’t know how to drive and don’t have anyone to teach you, there are a variety of approved driving schools that can help you learn.
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before your test because driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.
If you want help passing the written test, we recommend the following:
- Study this handbook; the questions on the test come from it.
- Driving schools also offer classes focused on the written test.
- You can complete practice exams online before you take your official test. Some are even free.
Keep in mind: If you’ve never had a driver’s license before and are applying for a Florida driver's license, you have to pass a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education class. This type of class is offered by authorized institutions including driving schools and high schools.
Driving And Practice Restrictions in Florida
For each class of license you’ll find not only restrictions on the type of vehicles but also restrictions in place to ensure everyone’s safety. These restrictions are indicated as follows:
The driver has to use glasses or contacts whenever they drive.
Exterior rearview mirror (left side)
Driver can’t drive any vehicle without a left exterior rearview mirror.
For business purposes only
Drivers can only drive to or from work, for education purposes, to church, and for medical purposes.
For employment purposes only
Drivers can only drive to and from work and any other work-related commitment.
Can only drive in daylight
Drivers can’t drive at night.
Drivers can’t operate manual transmission vehicles.
The person can’t drive vehicles without hydraulic power steering.
The driver has to drive a car equipped with mechanical signals.
Handle on the wheel
The vehicle has to have a handle on the wheel.
The driver can only drive while using hearing aids.
Drivers must have a bolster on their seat.
Manual controls or pedal extension
The vehicle must be equipped with manual controls or an extension for the pedals.
Left foot gas pedal
Drivers can only drive vehicles with a left foot gas pedal.
Probation period (note: this can be probation or a conditional period) /interlock device
The vehicle must have a court-approved interlock device preventing the driver from using the vehicle outside of the approved schedule.
Used for other restrictions.
Drivers must wear a medical bracelet whenever they are at the wheel.
For educational purposes only
Drivers can only drive to provide or receive education.
How to Apply For a Driver’s License
The process and requirements to get a new Florida driver's license depend on the type of license the driver needs. In the segment below we focus on Class E licenses as it’s the most common.
In Florida, Class E licenses are divided into three categories: learner’s permits, intermediate licenses, and regular license for drivers over 18. Here are the main requirements for applying for these three types of Florida driver's licenses.
Florida learner’s permit requirements
Learner’s permits are issued to teenagers who want to learn to drive. To get a permit, applicants have to meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 15 years old.
- Provide a consent form signed by the parents or guardians.
- Show a TLSAE course certificate.
- Pass a vision and hearing test at a service center.
- Pass the Class E license test.
- Provide proof of identity, social security number, and address. This site provides a list of relevant documentation.
Requirements for intermediate Florida driver’s license
Intermediate (or intermediate licenses for adolescents) licenses are issued to people who have had their permit but still can’t apply for regular licenses. Below are the main requirements to apply for an intermediate license:
- Applicants must be at least 16.
- Applicants must have their permit for at least a year or be at least 18, whichever occurs first.
- They must present a Certification of Driving Experience of a Minor signed by a parent or legal guardian over 21. This document confirms that the driver has had at least 50 hours of driving experience, ten of which must be at night.
- Applicants cannot have had any fines or traffic offenses during the time that they’ve had their driver’s permit.
- They have to pass the class E knowledge test.
- Applicants must have a valid insurance policy and vehicle registration for the car they’ll be using for the driving test.
- Their car must pass the test that the evaluator conducts to ensure that the car is safe to complete the test with.
- Provide the proper documentation to prove the applicant’s identity, including proof of social security and address. This site provides a list of relevant documents.
Requirements for adults over 18
If you’re over 18, the requirements to obtain a Florida driver's license are as follows:
- Take the Class E license exam and pass the driver’s test (this isn’t required if you already had another driver’s license issued by the state of Florida or another jurisdiction.)
- Take and pass the vision test.
- Show the necessary documentation to prove your identity.
How to Renew Your Florida Driver's License
If you lose your license or if it expires, you’ll have to renew it as soon as possible. There are two ways to do this:
- Online. This is the easiest option, but not everyone is eligible to use it. To see if you’re eligible to renew your license online, visit this site.
- In person. You can also go to any FLHSMV location to renew your license. Remember to bring all the necessary documentation to prove your identity.
Licences for undocumented immigrants in Florida
If you’re not a U.S. Citizen and you don’t have a social security number, don’t worry! Your immigration status should not prohibit you from getting a Florida driver's license. In fact, this is the first question on the list of FAQs on the FLHSMV website!
If this applies to you, we recommend that you read this article as it offers more details on how to obtain a driver’s license as an undocumented immigrant.
How much is the fine for driving without a license in Florida?
Under Florida statute 322.03, it's illegal to drive without a valid license. The minimum penalty is a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
How much does a Florida driver's license cost?
The cost of a Class E driver’s license is $48. Other commercial licenses (classes A, B, and C), cost $75.
How many questions does the Florida driver’s license test have?
The test for class E licenses has 50 questions. You’ll need to answer 80% of the questions correctly in order to pass the test (40 questions).
How long can I drive with an expired license?
Driving without a license is illegal at all times. However, in the state of Florida, if you’re pulled over by a traffic police officer and your license expired less than six months ago, the fine is lower than normal ($30).
How can I get my license in Miami?
Since Miami is one of the biggest cities in the state, Miami-Dade county has one of the highest number of FLHSMV offices. Click here to find the office closest to you.