Chapter 10

Traffic laws need to be respected. The law is one thing....following prudent advice is another. As with anything in life, know the rules and guidelines before you get involved with something. The laws and rules of the road should not be afterthoughts, but learned and observed.

Driving is a Privilege, Not a Right!

Teenage drivers make up less than seven percent of the licensed driving population, but they account for about 14 percent of traffic fatalities and 20 percent of all reported collisions.


Driving has been viewed by the State to be a privilege, granted and revocable by the State at any time. It is a common misconception that driving in the State of Georgia is your "right," but in reality it is a privilege to drive in this state. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been empowered by the state to oversee all licensing of motor vehicles. They control applications, suspensions, revocations, and probations of licenses. You must have a driver's license issued by the DMV to drive on any public road, street, highway, or property, and the license must be correct for the class of vehicle driven.

A Georgia driver's license is required for:

1. Any resident who wishes to legally drive upon Georgia highways.

2. Any new resident who has lived in Georgia for more than 30 days.

A Georgia driver's license is not required for:

1. A nonresident who is at least 16 years of age and who is in possession of a valid driving permit issued in the home state or country of that person's residence.

2. Any employee of the U.S. Government, including military and reserves, while operating a motor vehicle owned or leased to the U.S. Government. This is a valid exception unless the U.S. Government, or that person's Federal Agency, requires an employee to have a Georgia driver's license.

3. A nonresident on active duty in the Armed Forces who has a valid license from his or her home state. This is also true for a spouse and any dependent children.

4. A nonresident, full-time student at a college or university in Georgia, and such person's spouse and children, if they have a valid license from their home state. (Must show proof that out-of-state tuition has been paid to a college or university in Georgia.)

5. Any person on active duty in the Armed Forces holding a valid license issued in a foreign country by the Armed Forces of the United States. This exception is limited to a period of 45 days from the date of return to the U.S.A.

6. A new resident may drive in Georgia for the first 30 days on his or her valid license issued in another state or country.

7. Any inmate or resident patient of a state, county, or municipally-owned institution, who operates a motor vehicle while under the supervision and in the presence of an authorized person, upon the institution's property.

8. Any person operating a farm tractor or farm equipment that is temporarily on a highway for the purpose of conducting farm business.

9. A nonresident of the State of Georgia or a non-immigrant of the United States, who is at least 16 years of age and who is in immediate possession of a valid driving permit issued in the home state or country of that person's residence.

10. Any migrant farm worker who works in this state less than 90 days in any calendar year and who possesses a valid driver's license issued by another state.

11. Any resident who is at least 15 years of age or over while taking lessons from a licensed driving instructor or a certified high school driver education instructor.

12. Any person while operating a motorized cart.

Driverís License Classification

Georgia driverís licenses are classified by the type and weight of vehicle the applicant is planning on operating.

Class A

This class is for truck tractor-semi trailer combination in which the combination weight exceeds 26,001 pounds and trailing unit exceeds 10,000 pounds. You must possess a Class C license and be at least 18 years of age before obtaining a Class A license. A single driver's license, with a combination of classifications, will be issued to qualified persons who wish to drive various types of vehicles. This license is also valid for operating a Class B and C vehicle.

To apply for a driver's license in Classes A or B (non-commercial), you must submit a DS form #36. (Affidavit showing minimum driving experience of 3 months and/or 3,000 miles in type of vehicle for class of license being applied for.)

Class B

A Class B license allows you to operate single vehicles weighing 26,001 or more pounds, tow a trailing unit of less than 10,000 pounds, and drive motor vehicles included within Class C. You must possess a Class C license and be at least 18 years of age prior to obtaining a Class B license.

Class C

This license allows you to operate motor vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds and all vehicles not included within Classes A, B and M. This includes passenger cars, trucks and vehicles pulling a trailing unit that weighs less than 10,000 pounds. Any combination of vehicles must weigh no more than 26,000 pounds. All recreational vehicles may be operated with a class C license. You must be at least 18 years of age to obtain this license.

Class D

This is a provisional license for Class C vehicles. To be eligible, you must be at least 16 years of age, have a valid instruction permit which is not under suspension, and have not been convicted of any offense that would add four or more points to your driving record for at least 12 consecutive months. With this license, you may not operate a vehicle between 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. During the first six months, you may not drive with any passengers while driving. After six months, you may not operate a vehicle when any passenger in the vehicle is less than 21 years of age. (Members of your immediate family do not count in both cases.)

Class M

Motorcycles and motor-driven cycles are included in this class. You must be at least 16 years of age in order to get a Class M license, but you are not required to possess a Class C license before applying for this license.


A moped is any motor-driven cycle with an engine no larger than 50 cubic centimeters (3.05 cubic inches) that can propel the cycle at a speed of up to 30 miles per hour (MPH) and does not require clutching or shifting. It may be equipped with two or three wheels, foot pedals to permit muscular propulsion, and an independent power source providing a maximum of two brake horsepower.

Mopeds are exempt from the provisions relating to the registration and licensing of motor vehicles.

Rules to operate mopeds on Georgia roads and highways:

1.  You must be 15 years of age and have in your possession a valid driver's license, instructional permit or limited permit.

2.  You must wear protective headgear (motorcycle helmet).

3. No tag is required.

4.  When operating a moped upon a roadway, you must obey the same traffic laws governing drivers of motor vehicles.

5.  You may not use limited access highways or other roadways where the minimum speed limit is above 35 mph.


Class C: Instructional Permit

You must be at least 15 years old and be able to pass the eye and knowledge test. When driving, there must be a licensed driver at least 21 years old in the front seat with you at all times. The permit is valid for 24 months. Parental consent is required for applicants under 18 years of age.

Class M: Instructional Permit

You must be at least 16 years of age and have parental consent if under 18. You must pass an eye and knowledge test. The permit is valid for 6 months and will allow you to operate motorcycles and motor-driven cycles with the following restrictions: no passengers, no expressways, daylight hours only, and/or certain other applicable restrictions.

Class A and B Instructional Permits

You must be 18 years old, already possess a Class C license, and pass visual acuity and knowledge tests.

Requirements To Obtain a License

The following requirements must be met in order to obtain a Georgia License:

1. You must furnish proof that you live in Georgia and provide a valid Georgia residence address. The following items will be accepted as proof:

a. Utility bill issued within the last 45 days with valid Georgia residence address;

b. Bank statement issued within the last 45 days with valid Georgia residence address;

c. Rental contracts and/or receipts for payments made within the last 45 days with valid Georgia residence address;

d. Employer verification;

e. Valid Georgia license issued to parent, guardian, or spouse.

2. You must be at least 16 years old for Classes D and M, 18 years old for Classes A, B, and C, and 15 years old for a Class C instructional permit.

3. You must surrender all previous driver's license and instructional permits to the Examiner. If you do not have in your possession a license/ID card to surrender, you must provide a certified copy of Motor Vehicle Report or status letter from previous state.

4. If a first-time applicant for a Georgia license or permit, you must show some acceptable form of personal identification that includes full name, month, day and year of birth. The following items are acceptable:

1) Original birth certificate (State issued; hospital birth certificates not acceptable)

2) Certified copy of birth certificate (Issued by Vital Statistics with affixed seal)

3) Certificate of birth registration

4) Certified copy of court records (adoption, name changes or sex changes)

5) Certified naturalization records

6) Immigration I.D. card

7) Valid Passport

8) Military identification card issued by the United States Armed Forces

(U.S. citizens must furnish proof of citizenship. Non-U.S. citizens must present proper INS documentation.)

5. In addition to providing personal identification, you must provide proof that you are either a United States citizen or an alien with legal authorization from Immigration and Naturalization Service.

a. U.S. citizens must furnish proof of citizenship. In order to prove U.S. citizenship, you must furnish one of the following as proof when applying for an initial Georgia driver license, permit or identification card:

1) Original birth certificate issued by a United States jurisdiction;

2) Certified copy of birth certificate issued by a United States jurisdiction;

3) Valid United States passport;

4) Original certificate of citizenship (Form N560);

5) Certified copy of certificate of citizenship (Form N560);

6) Original certificate of naturalization (Form N550);

7) Certified copy of certificate of naturalization (Form N550)

b. In order to prove legal authorization from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, you must furnish one of the following as proof when applying for an initial Georgia driver license, permit or identification card:

1) Foreign passport with appropriate immigration documents;

2) Resident Alien Card (Form I-551);

3) Temporary Resident Alien Card (Form I-668);

4) United States Department of Receptions and Placement Program Assurance Form (for refugees).

6. In addition to the items list in this regulation, any two of the following documents will be acceptable proof of identity for a replacement Georgia driver's license, permit or identification card:

1) Marriage License;

2) Social Security Card;

3) Previous Year Income Tax Return;

4) Current Insurance Policy;

5) Current Automobile Registration Receipt;

6) Voter Registration Card.

7. Documents presented must be either in English or translated into English by a translator approved by the Department of Public Safety. You may contact a Driver License office in your area for a list of approved translators.

8. You must successfully complete a driver examination, which is a test to determine your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. The examination includes an eye test, a road signs test, a road rules test for desired class, and an actual driving test.

9. If applying for a Class A or B license, you must submit a DS-36 form.

10. All applicants for identification cards and license must be fingerprinted.

11. The Department may require a medical evaluation if you have a mental or physical condition that could prevent the safe operation of a motor vehicle.

12. If you are an applicant under the age of 18, you will be required to show you have completed a course on alcohol and drugs before you are issued a driver's license. This course will be taught in the Georgia State School System. The Georgia Department of Driver Services will authorize instructors.

Special Note Concerning Minors

If you are under 18 years old, parental or guardian consent is necessary before issuance of the original license. Identification (and/or proof of guardianship) will be required of parents.

13. If you are under the age of 18, you must provide a Certificate of Attendance (DS-1) as proof of enrollment in school, or show proof you have received a GED, a high school diploma, or completed high school. Forms for school attendance or withdrawal are available from the local Driver License Office.

14. If you have never been licensed by any other jurisdiction, you cannot receive an initial issuance of a class C or D license unless you:

•  Are at least 16 and have completed an approved driver education course in a licensed private or public driver training school, and in addition, received a cumulative total of at least 40 hours of other supervised driving experience, including at least six hours at night;


•  Are at least 17 and have completed a cumulative total of at least 40 hours of supervised driving experience, including at least six hours at night.

15. You, or a parent or guardian if under the age of 18, must sign a verification form attesting to the above requirement.

16. A certified copy of the motor vehicle report from the former jurisdiction will be required in order to give credit for a license or permit held in another state.

Licensing Fees

Effective July 1, 2005, all Georgia driver's licenses and identification cards will be issued for longer periods of time with new fees, and the organ donor discount program and vision testing will be discontinued (except as required and/or for special licensing circumstances).




Regular Non-commercial (Class C) Driver License

5 years $20


10 years


GA Identification Card

5 years



10 years


Provisional License (Class D)

5 years


Regular Instruction (Class C) Permit

2 years


Commercial Driver License (CDL)

5 years


Commercial Driver License (CDL) w/ Hazmat

5 years


Veteran / Honorary License

10 years

No fee

Veteran / Honorary Identification Card

10 years

No fee

The Driving Test

Vision Test - Your eyes will be tested by means of a mechanical device. The minimum acceptable vision is 20/60 in one eye, with or without corrective lenses, and a field of vision of at least 140 degrees. Upon failure of the field vision screening, you will be required to have a DS-274 completed by a licensed optometrist.

Road Sign Awareness Test - A set of questions on the meaning of standard highway signs will be given. You will be asked to identify certain signs, signals and markers. 15 out of 20 correct answers are necessary to pass.

Rules and Laws of the Road Test - The road rules test consists of a set of questions about driver responsibility, knowledge of laws and safe driving practices, applicable to the class of license applied for. To pass the test, you must answer at least 15 out of 20 questions correctly. This test is available in some languages other than English, but you must show the ability to read and understand simple English such as that used in highway traffic and directional signs. The road signs and the actual driving test must be taken in English.

The Driving Test for Class C and D Ė All road test vehicles must be covered by liability insurance (you must show a valid insurance card), pass a safety inspection, and if the vehicle is not equipped with turn signals, you must know your hand signals. All driving tests are done by appointment only.

For this test, you will be asked to perform all or part of the following:

1. Parallel Parking: Park midway between two standards so that your car is not more than 18 inches from the curb.

2. Quick Stops: Drive at a speed of 20 miles per hour and make a quick, safe stop when the examiner instructs you.

3. Backing: Back your car for a distance of about 50 feet at a slow rate of speed, as straight and as smoothly as possible. Turn your head and look back at all times while backing.

4. Stopping at Signs or Traffic Signals: Give the proper hand or brake signal, approach in the proper lane, stop before reaching a pedestrian crosswalk, and remain stopped until you may move safely through.

5. Turning Around: Turn your car in a narrow space.

6. Use of Clutch: If your car has a standard transmission, you must shift smoothly and correctly.

7.  Approaching Corners: You must be in the proper lane and look in both directions before entering the intersection.

8.  Yielding Right-of- Way: Always yield the right-of way to pedestrians, motor vehicles, bicyclists or anyone else who moves into the intersection before you.

9. Stopping on an Upgrade: You will be asked to stop correctly on a hill. After stopping, turn the steering wheel right or left so that the back of the front wheel can rest slightly against the curb.

10. Turning: Get into the proper lane and give a signal at an adequate distance before reaching the turn.

11. Passing: Always look ahead and behind to make sure you can safely pass without interfering with other traffic.

12. Following: Do not drive too closely behind other cars. Watch the car ahead of you; when it passes some reference point, such as a telephone pole, then count "one-thousand-one, one thousand two." If you pass the same spot before you are through counting, you are following too closely.

13.  Posture: Keep both hands on the steering wheel. Do not rest your elbow on the window and do not attempt to carry on a conversation with the Examiner because he/she will be busy giving instructions and recording your score.

The Driving Test for a Class M License - You must furnish a motorcycle for the test and pass a safety inspection of the motorcycle by the license examiner before the driving test is given. You may contact the Motorcycle Safety Program at (404) 669-2950 to obtain information on the motorcycle license driving test.

* There is no driving test for a Class A or B non-commercial license, but you will need to pass a knowledge exam for the class of license you wish to obtain.