Understanding The Driver Licensing Laws In The US

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A driver’s license is a permit you hold to show that you are competent enough to be driving on the road. Regardless of the class or type of automobile being driven, all drivers are required to carry their driving licenses at all times. It is a requirement by the law in most jurisdictions, and the US is no exception. 

However, even law enforcement and government agencies face a range of difficulties when interpreting or enacting certain laws surrounding driving licenses. This is especially when it comes to issues involving international drivers. You will need an international driver’s license to drive your car comfortably in the US as a foreigner, but how exactly do you go about getting one legally? 

Including this, here are some things you need to understand about getting a driver’s license in the US and the laws surrounding it.

 1. The Driving Age Limits 

The US driving laws are by far among the most favorable as far as age limits are concerned. In most states, minors are allowed to practice driving before the age of eighteen, where a successful completion leads to a driving permit. Many states allow one to pursue a driver’s permit when anything between 14 and 16 years of age. Once the teenage learner completes all the required courses and assessments, they can then qualify for a full license.

The major problem law enforcement agencies face when it comes to driving permits is that some younger drivers can be rather unpredictable on the road. Also, teenagers cannot be treated as adults in case they break the law. The specific laws may also vary from one state to the other.

2. Driving Fitness 

To get a driving permit and a subsequent driving license, one needs to pass the driving competence test and demonstrate their driving fitness. To complete a driving competence test, the aspiring driver should pass a vision test, a written test, and a road driving test. They should also be free from medical conditions that could cause impaired driving permanently or temporarily. This is why some people are required to get a complete driving fitness test before being awarded an international driver’s license in the United States of America. 

3. Driving Several Classes Of Vehicles 

In essence, driver’s licenses are issued based on merit after completing a course and demonstrating competence on the road. However, this doesn’t mean that you can comfortably drive a bus or a truck just because you passed the basic road driving test in a small automatic transmission vehicle.

This is why driving permits and licenses need to be upgraded and updated as soon as you further your driving prowess. Nonetheless, many law enforcement officers encounter very professional truckers whose driver’s licenses are still basic and haven’t yet been updated. The said trucker might have been driving carefully, and all that, the officer will get confused on whether to charge them or arrest them since the license doesn’t indicate permission to drive heavy machinery.

4. International Driver’s License 

If you are a foreigner or visitor in the US and you want to drive around, you will need an international driver’s license. This should prove that you are a competent driver who upholds the rule of law. Nonetheless, the US’s driving rules and road signs may differ from those used in your home country. 

Moreover, drivers and law enforcement officers alike experience plenty of other challenges that international road users in the US should know. For instance, the steering wheel in US cars is located on the left-hand side of the dashboard. 

This means that the driver is required to keep right unless overtaking, unlike many other places abroad where cars are right-hand drive.

As anyone would guess, this is a common issue the authorities have to consider when issuing and vetting international driving permits. According to a recent report on driver’s license ranking by Compare the Market, different countries are ranked differently when it comes to international requirements and cooperation with other countries. 


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It pays to understand the driver licensing laws better in your country and abroad when traveling. If the US is anything you have in mind, the above few tips should help. Understanding some of the many challenges faced by licensing agencies can also help minimize your difficulties in getting an international driving permit.