Wisconsin Driving Restrictions for Young Drivers

There’s no greater moment for a young driver than to graduate from a learner’s permit to a driver’s license, now being able to take the road without needing mom or dad in the passenger seat. However, in some states, like Wisconsin, there are restrictions that still come with having that license. If you’re a teenager driving through America’s Dairyland, it’s important to understand what you’re legally allowed to do behind the wheel from permit to road test.

Instruction Permit


At 15 and a half years old, a teenager can take their written test and vision exam with the Wisconsin DMV to obtain an instruction permit. The application for such a permit requires proof of identification, proof of residency, and a certificate of enrollment in a driver education course. The instruction permit does come with a need to understand Wisconsin driving restrictions for 16 year olds. Teenage drivers are only allowed to drive during daylight hours while supervised from the front seat by an eligible adult.

Instruction permit holders can drive after dark only if supervised by a driving instructor or licensed adult who’s at least 25 years old. As a new driver in Wisconsin, permit holders are not allowed to have passengers. There is leeway if the teen driver is being supervised by a parent or spouse. After turning 16, the teen can drive people while supervised by a licensed adult, with all passengers required to wear a seat belt. Any restriction violation can cost a young driver $50.

Probationary License


probationary license is a license issued to a new driver, regardless of age. The main difference between a probationary license and a regular license is the restrictions listed on the back of the card. With this license, demerit points double for moving traffic convictions after your first conviction. A probationary license will be suspended for six months if you accumulate 12 or more points within a 12-month period.

Wisconsin residents under 18 years of age may obtain a probationary driver’s license if they are at least 16 years old and have passed an approved driver education course. They must also have an adult sponsor with a valid Wisconsin driver’s license, and prove their name, date of birth, and residential status. License restriction violations can actually result in misdemeanor charges. This paves the way for young people to gain hours of driving experience. This also teaches them the responsibility of a licensed driver from the rules of the road to putting away the cell phone while driving.

Graduated Driver License


graduated driver’s license, or GDL, has passenger and hour restrictions to reduce the risk for 16-year-old drivers and other teens that get behind the wheel. This allows novice drivers to gain skills and experience by building their capabilities in lower-risk situations. If you’re under 18 years old, you must be enrolled in, or have completed, your driving test and driving education. You must also be enrolled in a school program or high school equivalency, or have graduated from such a program.

If you violate GDL restrictions, it could lead to a doubling of demerit points with subsequent convictions for moving violations. This could actually lead to a suspension of your license or having it revoked under these strict limitations. Traffic violations can lead to subsequent convictions that result in driving privileges being taken away. Drivers will have to go six months free of violations to be able to reapply for this license. All of these restrictions are designed with the intent of a licensed person becoming a safe driver, and able to hit the road sensibly and safely.