Online Drivers Ed in New York

Written by Staff Writer

Drivers ed is the first step on the road to your New York driver license. Whether you just celebrated your sixteenth birthday or are a mature learner, you need to learn the rules of the road before the state entrusts you with your driver license.

When most people say drivers ed, they are really talking about the entire pre-license process, not just the driver education portion. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYS DMV) requires first-time applicants to obtain a learner permit, take a qualifying course, practice driving under qualified supervision and pass a road test.

Read on for a more detailed explanation of the process. Or click here to leap right into our 5-hour online pre-licensing course to start your journey.

Learner Permit

Before you start, you will need a learner permit. You can apply in person at the NYS DMV or on the internet.

You must assemble documents that affirm your identity, like your birth certificate or social security card, and then take a permit test. The permit test is a 20-question, multiple-choice exam. You can take your learner permit test online or in person at the NYS DMV.

With a learner permit in hand, you can start your full driver education. You can choose an in-person class. Or you can satisfy your pre-licensing requirement virtually. Online drivers ed is faster, more convenient and fully approved by the NYS DMV.

Drivers Ed Requirements

You must be at least 16 years old to participate in a drivers ed program. The curriculum and requirements for driver education come from a partnership between the NYS DMV and the New York State Education Department (SED). In-classroom programs must contain at least 24 hours of classroom instruction and 24 hours of behind-the-wheel practice.

Driving school is only offered through high schools and colleges under the authority of the SED. Completion of a qualified class provides students with an MV-278 Pre-Licensing Course Completion Certificate. You will need that certificate to schedule your road test.

If you are at least 18 years old, you can skip the classroom and take an online pre-licensing program instead.

Additional Steps

While in-person classes require 24 hours of classroom instruction, an internet-based pre-licensing course takes as little as five hours to complete. By taking drivers ed online, you save up to 19 hours of class time, plus there is no commute! You must be at least 18 years old to take digital training instead of in-person instruction.

New York Safety Council offers a state-approved online pre-licensing course that lets you train from any device in as little as five hours. The NYS DMV requires all approved providers to cover certain topics. Our course satisfies all these requirements.

The full curriculum includes:

  • Introduction to safe driving
  • Driving within the highway transportation system
  • Rules of the road
  • Safe habits
  • Safe vehicle control skills
  • Risks of alcohol and other drugs
  • New York state laws
  • Feelings, attitudes and taking risks
  • Aggressive driving and road rage

Completing your education digitally does not provide an MV-278 certificate. Instead, approved online driving schools report your completion directly to the DMV. The completed credit will appear on your record in approximately 48 hours. You can schedule your road test up to a year after completing this requirement.

Supervised Practice

If you are under 18, you need a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving practice and a completed MV-262 Certification of Supervised Driving before taking a skills test.

If you are 18 years or older, the NYS DMV strongly advises that you satisfy the practice requirements, but no MV-262 certificate is required.

Road Test

You’ve got your learner permit. You’ve completed online drivers ed. You’ve practiced diligently. There’s only one more thing standing between you and your license: a road test. A license examiner will observe your driving and evaluate your skills behind the wheel.

After completing this evaluation, you will be issued your first full license. Congratulations!


Even though there are a lot of steps in the licensing process, New York Safety Council makes it easy to satisfy driver education requirements. In as little as five hours, you can complete a full training program from any device. Log in and out as many times as you want. We automatically save your progress.

There is no final exam at the end of our pre-licensing training, though there are brief quizzes at the end of each module to assess your learning. As soon as you complete the driving program, we will automatically report it to the NYS DMV.

If you want to take your skills even further, we also offer a New York defensive driving course. Master safe driving techniques and qualify for additional benefits like a 10% reduction on your insurance rates and even points off your record.

Check out our FAQ page for further questions about our pre-licensing course or state driver education requirements.