Information on Class D Drivers Licenses

by Jack Rella

The class D driver's license is the standard license for any vehicle under 16,000 pounds--including passenger vehicles, sport utility vehicles, vans, and trucks. This license is issued by most states for non-commercial use. The class D license cannot be used to operate a motorcycle. The exceptions are Florida and Louisiana, where a passenger vehicle license is called a class E; Mississippi, which issues a class R license for passenger vehicles; Hawaii which issues a class 4 license for passenger vehicles; and Rhode Island, where a class 10 license is issued for passenger vehicles. Some states combine a class D license with a commercial license.

Obtaining a Class D Driver's License

In most states, a class D driver's license will not be issued without first issuing a learner's permit, or a driver's permit as it is sometimes called. This is a temporary license that is issued to people who have not previously had a driver's license, including teenagers of at least 15 years of age, or adults who are learning to drive for the first time or who have never had a driver's license before. In most states, operating a vehicle for a certain amount of time with a learner's permit--along with taking a driver's education course, a written test, and a road test--are required to obtain a class D driver's license.


The regulations governing a learner's permit vary from state to state, but generally this permit will be used for a determined amount of time so that the new driver can gain experience in real driving conditions. Usually, the learner's permit can only be used under the supervision of a licensed driver who must be in the vehicle at all times. After a period of usually about two months of supervised driving, the written test can be taken in the process of obtaining the class D driver's license.

Written Test

The written exam for obtaining a class D driver's license covers all the basic rules of the road and the laws that pertain to the safe operation of a motor vehicle. This includes the fundamentals of operating a vehicle, how to drive in traffic, braking and following distances, various speed limits, parking procedures, and understanding road signs and markings. Laws which apply to driving will also be on the exam, such as license renewal, proper registration and insurance paperwork, fines and license suspension regulations, and laws pertaining to substance abuse and legal alcohol limits.

How to Obtain Information

All states will provide a book of rules which correspond to the jurisdiction in which the class D license will be issued. This book will include all of the laws and driving procedures that apply to the safe and legal operation of a vehicle within the jurisdiction. These books are usually printed in color so that the potential driver can familiarize herself with the various categories of road signs and road markings that are classified by color coding. There will also be charts and or graphs for learning about braking distances and safe following distances.

Other Information

Besides studying the rule books that are provided, a driver's education course can be taken to learn driving laws and gain real road experience under a driving instructor's supervision. In many states, a driver's education course is mandatory before the issuance of a class D driver's license. There are many driver's education courses offered in most states, and may be found in the telephone directory or online.

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