To obtain a Pennsylvania Driver's License you must pass two separate examinations. The first is a PA State written drivers examination and the second is a road test administered in a vehicle with an officer present. Steps to complete both examinations appear at the end of this section.
If you have a driver's license from your home country along with an international license or permit, you may drive in the United States for up to one year. After one year, you will need a Pennsylvania Driver's license which costs $29. To obtain a driver's license your I-20 or DS-2019 must include an expiration date of more than one year.
If you don't know how to drive you will need to borrow or rent a car with the help of a friend or relative. Americans generally learn to drive at the age of 16 with the help of their family. It is not recommended that you ask your host family to teach you how to drive in their car. Their automobile insurance may not cover an accident caused by non-family members. The best advice is to pay a professional driving instructor to teach you.
Susquehanna Intermediate Unit can provide driving instructors. Call 570-523-1155 ext. 2310 and ask to speak with an instructor. They will pick you up at Bucknell and provide you with a lesson in their vehicle. You may practice at a cost of $40 per hour until you are ready for the road test. Your instructor will take you to the testing site and allow you to use their car for the examination with the officer. It is extremely important to know the vehicle you are being tested in. The officer will fail you if you do not know where the head light beams are or how to use the windshield wipers. You will also fail if you do not first put on your safety belt! Do not use a rented vehicle with a friend if you do not know the car well!!
Driving in the US can be fun, but it carries responsibility, too. Since the speeds can be quite high (up to 70 mph on highways), it is important for an international student to get adjusted to the speed as well as to the correct side of the road to drive on. So even if you have driven before, it is best advised not to drive alone initially.
Below are the steps to obtain a driver's license:
STEP ONE: LEARNER'S PERMIT
Before You Go
- Obtain the PA Driver's Manual from International Student Services, LC 219 or visit PennDOTs Home Page at www.state.pa.us
- Remove the Medical Qualification Form (Form DL-180A) from the manual or print it out from the web site and have a physician complete it. You can get a free physical exam at the Health Center by seeing a doctor during open hours.
- Bring your passport, I-94 card, I-20 or DS-2019, social security card (originals and not photocopies), Medical Qualification Form, and money order or check for the $29.00 fee. You must also bring two forms of evidence that documents your mailing address. This can be a statement from a bank, credit card bill or University bill. In the case of a University bill, you must also have a letter from the Mail Services supervisor, Dennis A. Wilbur, #7-3757, to verify the street address of Bucknell University.
- Request a verification of enrollment form from the office of the Registrar. This document is also required.
While You're There
- Fill out Initial Application for a Noncommercial Learner's Permit
- Complete a vision screening (at Driver Exam Center) where you will need any corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) that you own.
- Take the Pennsylvania Sign and Knowledge Test*
- Receive a Learner's Permit (valid for 60 days) to practice driving before the Road Test. (You cannot take a road test with a temporary permit.) However, you can take the Road Test the day after receiving the permit.
*THIS IS NOT AN EASY TEST. DILIGENTLY STUDY THE PA DRIVER'S MANUAL BEFORE TAKING IT.
STEP TWO: PRACTICE DRIVING
- As soon as you get a Learner's Permit, you are able to go practice driving. However, you cannot take a road test until you get an Official Learner's Permit.
- Be sure to carry your permit with you whenever you practice-driving. Practice with any licensed driver OR Call Susquehanna Intermediate Unit (523-1155) who will provide BOTH a car and a licensed driver with whom you may practice at a cost of $40/hr.
- If your Learner's Permit expires before you complete the Road Test, you must fill out an Application to Extend/Add/Replace Noncommercial Learner's Permit (Form DL-31).
STEP THREE: ROAD TEST
Before You Go
- Find someone (over 18) with a driver's license and a car to accompany you to the PennDot Photo & Examination Center.
- Bring your Learner's Permit, social security card, registration card and a proof of vehicle insurance for the vehicle you'll drive during the test, and the driver's license of the person accompanying you to the test center (originals, not photocopies).
While You're There
- The examiner will check all documents that you've brought and will ensure that all lights, horn, brakes, windshield wipers, turn signals, etc. are in working order. BE SURE TO CHECK ALL OF THESE THINGS BEFORE SELECTING A CAR FOR THE TEST.
- If you pass, the officer will endorse your Learner's Permit as a driver's license valid for 120 days.
- If you fail the test, you may be retested no sooner than the next 7 days. You have three chances to pass the Road Test with one Learner's Permit. After the third failure, the examiner will confiscate your permit. You can reapply for another permit by completing the Application to Extend/Add/ Replace Noncommercial Learner's Permit.
PennDot Photo & Examination Center is located in Selinsgrove. Take Route 15 south, pass Susquehanna Mall, and turn right at Route 522. The State Police Office is past Weis Market on the left and is open Tues., Wed., Fri., & Sat. 8:30 AM-4:15 PM. Appointment is needed. TEL: 374-8320 or Call Customer Call Center at 1-800-932-4600 between the hours of 7.00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
STEP FOUR: PHOTO LICENSE
- In some test centers, you have your picture taken and receive PA Driver's License after passing the road test.
- You will receive your camera card at most Driver License Centers after passing the Road Test. You will be asked if you would eke to be an organ donor at this time, the words "Organ Donor" will appear on your license only if you say "Yes." Informational phone numbers concerning organ donation are listed in the PA Driver's Manual.
- If you did not get a license right away, within 45 days of passing your road test, you will receive a camera card. You can obtain a PA Driver's License by taking your camera card and your passport to the Photo License Center in Lewisburg (150 N. Derr Dr.) located off rt. 15 behind Bechtels Restaurant. Open Friday & Saturday, 8:30 AM-4:15 PM. TEL: (570)523-3030.
Automated Telephone System for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Bureau of Driver Licensing. Information regarding the most frequently asked questions and obtaining forms is available 24 hours if using a touch-phone telephone. Service representatives are available 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri for direct assistance 1-800-932-4600.
Further Information: Visit to PennDOTs Home Page at www.state.pa.us