Learning to Drive: Receiving a Learner’s Permit and License

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Learning to Drive: Receiving a Learner’s Permit and License

Ashley Metzbower, Staff

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Think you’re ready to drive?  

Well, a Maryland learner’s permit can be acquired by teens when they are exactly 15 years and 9 months old. This will allow a person to drive with a supervising driver (a parent or guardian) who is at least 21 years old and has had a license for at least three years.  If any of rules are violated, the driving privilege could be suspended. 

Before you head to the MVA, it’s time to start gathering information and documentation.  

Start by downloading the Motor Vehicle Administration form and have the school office staff fill it out for attendance verification. They will put it in a sealed envelope to turn into the MVA. If it is opened, it will become invalid, so be sure to not open it.  

To obtain a learner’s permit, bring $50; payment may be by charge card, cash, or a check. You will also need to bring a birth certificate (either the original or a certified copy), a passport, or permanent resident card; social security card; and proof of address with a BG&E or phone bill, a bank statement or mortgage coupons. 

Some of the closest MVA locations to the Catonsville area include: 

5425 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD 21215 

1601 Bowmans Farm Rd, Frederick, MD 21701 

6601 Ritchie Hwy, Glen Burnie, MD 21062 

Most are open Monday through Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm. They usually have one day a week they are open a little later, too. For a learner’s permit, an appointment is not required but recommended. 

At the MVA of choice, provide staff with all the documentation and then wait. They will do a vision test unless the vision screening form has already been filled out by an optometrist, either online or a hard copy. 

Then comes the fun part, the written test. It is generally common sense but, it does actually require studying. The Maryland Driver’s Manual is the best route for learning the most important information for the test. There is a helpful tutorial online, as well as free practice tests. It’s required to get an 88% or better in order to pass with a time limit of 20 minutes. The permit will be received in the mail within 4-7 business days. 

Once the test is passed, the MVA will provide a  “New Driver & Coach Practice Guide” which contains a log to record practice driving time and more information on the next step in the driving process.  

Start small. There are plenty of not-so-crowded parking lots where new drivers can get a feel for everything in the car: steering wheels, gas/brake pedals, turn signals, seat positioning, etc. After car familiarity is established, start driving around the neighborhood, learning turns, parking, etc. 

In order to qualify for the MD provisional driver’s license, the second stage of “Rookie” driving in Maryland, nine months must have passed since learner’s permit was received; at the earliest, the student will be 16 years and 6 months old. 

Before getting a provisional license, the student must complete 60 hours of driving which should be recorded in the log; 10 of those hours driving at night. Thirty hours of driving school classes must be attended with follow-up of driving with an instructor. Catonsville has a variety of Driving Schools, including: 

EZ Driving School, Inc 

Easy Method Driving School 

The Catonsville High School Booster Club and Street Smarts of Ellicott City partnered up to do the driving classes 

“I’m taking Driver’s Ed at EZ Driving School, Monday through Thursdays, from 6 pm to 9:15 pm. It goes late, and I’m happy this is the last one,” exclaimed sophomore Genevieve Manger.  

She has taken 10 classes and gets her learner’s permit very soon.  

“Hopefully. I know how to operate a car, but I feel like if I get behind the wheel and something happens, I’m going to panic,” she explained. 

Once the classroom education has been obtained, schedule the three driving sessions with the school or instructor that will provide the six hours with an instructor that you will need. They generally arrive in a pretty easy-to-get-acquainted-with-car, a small automatic sedan, at the home of the student.  

The next stage is a provisional driver’s license. An appointment at MVA for this part is required. Bring the learner’s permit and driving log and be prepared to take the driving test. This test will be performed on a course and a public road with a representative of MVA in the car. It evaluates the skills learned in driving school and the 60 hours of driving. The provisional license will also be mailed and received within 4-7 business days.  

“The test was pretty hard, I failed the first time because of how tight the road was. I passed the second test and that was really easy,” stated Pulone. 

“Before taking the test, I would recommend driving as much as you can. Stay alert, drive with someone that will keep you calm, know all your road signs, and overexaggerate on your test when you look in the mirrors and stuff,” she explained. 

Once you earn that provisional license, you are prohibited from driving with anyone under the age of 18 other than immediate family members. You can only drive between the hours of 12am and 5am, unless going to work/school functions with the provisional license. 

MVA will send a full driver’s license once the provisional license has been kept for 18 months with no convictions, by 18 years old. Happy driving!