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Driver Tests Overview in Tennessee

Motorists must pass a drivers test in Tennessee before they may obtain a Class D driving license through the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS). In addition to completing a drivers license test, motorists must pass a written exam and a vision screening before they may obtain driving credentials in the state. Before completing a DMV drivers test, however, residents must be at least 16 years of age. Furthermore, residents may complete a written drivers test and pass a vision screening at 15 years of age if they wish to obtain a learner permit under the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program. Driving exam applicants younger than 18 years of age must meet additional qualifications for obtaining an intermediate Class D driver license. However, drivers education is a not a requirement in the state of Tennessee. To learn more about TN driving test qualifications, written exam and vision screening requirements, review the information below.

Tennessee DMV Drivers Test Vision Requirements

All Tennessee drivers exam applicants must pass a vision screening before they may obtain a Class D driving license under the TDOSHS, including new residents with a valid out-of-state driver credential or out-of-country applicants with no prior licenses. In addition to Class D drivers license exam applicants, motorists who wish to obtain a learner permit (Class PD), for-hire endorsement (Class D with F), Class H hardship or a commercial driving credential must pass a vision screening as part of the application process. In most cases, applicants must have at least 20/40 vision in each individual eye and both eyes together before they may obtain a driving credential. However, Tennessee drivers test applicants may complete a vision screening with or without their contact lenses or corrective eyeglasses. If DMV driving test applicants fail their vision screening, then they must visit an eye specialist to have a doctor complete an eye statement the TDOSHS will evaluate.

Tennessee Written Drivers Test Overview

Passing a written drivers exam in Tennessee is a requirement before motorists may obtain a driving license or learner permit. If applicants complete a written drivers test before obtaining a learner permit, however, they do not need to retake the written DMV exam before obtaining a regular Class D license, as GDL requirements do not apply to motorists older than 18 years of age or high school graduates (including those with a valid GED). If motorists do not complete a written driver exam as part of the state’s GDL Program, then they must pass a knowledge test before they may obtain a driving license.

When completing a drivers ed test in Tennessee (also known as a knowledge exam), applicants must correctly answer questions pertaining to local traffic signs and signals, safe driving strategies, basic rules of the road and the consequences of driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. The written drivers examination is evenly split up between these four areas. To complete a written DMV drivers test, applicants must visit a Driver License Service Center, where they will take the exam using a computer. Additionally, written drivers exams are available orally if applicants have a learning disability or if they cannot read. However, oral drivers license exams are only available by appointment and applicants younger than 18 years of age must submit a written statement from their physician or educational specialist. Applicants who are deaf may complete a drivers license test with the assistance of a sign language interpreter.

Failing a Written Driving Test in Tennessee

If applicants fail a written drivers test in Tennessee, then they must wait at least seven days before they may retake the exam, regardless if they are retaking the test for a second time or more. If students cheat on their written driving exam or use a cell phone during the test, however, then they must wait at least 30 days before they may retake the knowledge examination.

Tennessee Drivers License Test Overview

Residents must pass a drivers test in Tennessee before they may obtain a driving license. A driving exam includes a pre-trip vehicle inspection and a road demonstration. Additionally, TN driving license exams test motorists on their ability to complete the following:

  • Inspect a vehicle, prepare to drive and start an automobile
  • Follow traffic laws, signals and posted signs
  • Cooperate with the examiner and follow instructions
  • Control a vehicle
  • Make right and left turns
  • Stop a vehicle
  • Reverse and park an automobile
  • Judge distances between other vehicles
  • Share the road and communicate with other motorists

Driving license tests are only available by appointment at Driver License Service Centers throughout the state. To schedule a DMV drivers license exam, applicants must contact the TDOSHS by phone or make an appointment online.

Failing a Drivers Exam in Tennessee

If motorists fail their driving test in Tennessee, then they must retake the examination on a different day. In most cases, motorists fail a driving license test if they violate a traffic law, refuse to follow the examiner’s directions, engage in a dangerous action or contribute to a traffic accident. However, how soon TN driving examination applicants may retake their tests depends on the number of errors they commit during the road demonstration. If DMV drivers test applicants only commit between one and six errors, then they will pass their driving examination. However, the following guidelines apply to driving exam applicants who do not pass their drivers license test in the state of Tennessee:

  • Between seven and nine errors – must wait one day to retest
  • Between 10 to 12 errors – must wait seven days to retest
  • Between 13 and 15 errors – must wait 14 days to retest
  • 16 or more errors or automatic failure – must wait at least 30 days to retest

Tennessee Drivers Exam Vehicle Requirements

Before completing a Tennessee drivers test, motorists must meet all vehicle requirements. For instance, driving test applicants must complete the road examination in a vehicle with valid registration materials (such as license plates) and the automobile must be in proper working order. Before completing a TN driving examination, the instructor will have motorists complete a pre-trip vehicle inspection, which will verify that the automobile contains working safety belts, brakes, headlights, tail and brake lights, windshield wipers (including defroster and fan control), rearview mirrors and horns.


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