The first test for beginning drivers is the knowledge test. DC DMV’s driver knowledge examination tests your knowledge of traffic laws, road signs, and driving safety rules and determines whether you are prepared to operate a vehicle in accordance with DC law. The test can be taken in English, Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. Audio assisted tests are also available for those who need assistance with reading.
Knowledge testing is also available at two Test Proctoring Centers, with the exception of motorcycle and CDL knowledge tests. The Standard and GRAD (16 – 20 years old) knowledge tests are available. Test can be taken in English only. An appointment is also required for a test at these locations.
You may take a practice knowledge test online to prepare for the test.
You must pay a fee to take the knowledge test, whether you pass or fail.
If you fail…
If you fail the driver knowledge test, you must wait 3 full calendar days before you are eligible to take it again on the fourth day. For example, if you fail the test on Tuesday, you are not eligible to retest until Saturday. If you fail the driver knowledge test 6 times within a 12-month period, you will not be allowed to take the 7th test until 12 months after you failed the 1st test.
Be sure to study the manual of the license you are testing for before you arrive to take the knowledge test so that you do not have to wait for your retest.
Each knowledge test has a time limit; if you go beyond the limit, you fail the test. Using smart devices (i.e. cellphone or watch), study materials, talking, etc. during the test is considered cheating and will result in a failed test. Additionally, you will not be allowed to re-test for 60 days. Only individuals taking the test are allowed in the testing area.
Testing time limits
Non-Commercial – 60 minutes
GRAD, or Learner Permit Knowledge – 75 minutes
Motorcycle – 60 minutes
Commercial, General Knowledge – 90 minutes
Commercial, Endorsements – 60 minutes
Note: When you pass the motorcycle operator knowledge test, you will receive a printout rather than a permit.
View more information on the commercial driver license knowledge test.