Driving in the U.S.
How to get a Driver's License in Wisconsin
Driver's licenses in Wisconsin are issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Platteville DMV office does not have a telephone number; you will have to visit their office to make contact with them. The general Wisconsin State DMV phone number is: 800.924.3570. The DMV office is located just off of Hwy. 151 in the Platteville Industry Park.
Using Your International Driver's License
If you are in the U.S. for less than a year and have a valid driver's license issued by a country that signed the 1943 regulation of inter-American automotive traffic or the 1949 Geneva Convention, you may drive legally on that license.This allows you to drive a personal or rental car. Click here for more information and to view a list of countries authorized by the 1943/1949 convention.
Do I need a Wisconsin Driver's License?
If you are in the U.S. for longer than a year (even if you do have a valid driver's license from your home country) or do not have a valid driver's license issued by a country referenced above, you must obtain a Wisconsin driver's license to drive a vehicle legally. Click here for more information on obtaining a Wisconsin License.
Minimum Stay Requirement
Wisconsin will issue a driver's license to non-immigrant students and visitors who will have legal status in the United States for a minimum of one year and who are eligible to remain in the United States for at least 6 months at the time of applying for the license.
What if I've never had a driver's license before?
If you have never had a driver's license even in your home country, you must first apply for the Instruction Permit at the Platteville Division of Motor Vehicles Service Center. To get this permit you are required to pass the knowledge test, signs test, and the vision screening (eye test). The Instruction Permit is valid for 1 year and is NOT a driver's license.
You can use the Instruction Permit to practice your driving skills then return to take the practical test. To drive with an Instruction Permit, you must be accompanied by a drive with a valid driver's license and who has 2 years of licensed driving experience. The experienced drive must be: a qualified instructor age 19 or older, parent/guardian or spouse age 19 or older, or a person 21 years or older. Click here for more information on Instruction Permits.
Expiration of Wisconsin Driver's License
- For F-1 students and F-2 dependents. Expiration dates for original license are normally 2 years from your next birthday.
- For J-1 students and J-2 dependents. Expiration date for your original license will match the expiration date of your DS-2019, but no longer than 2 years (for a license) from your next birthday.
Steps to getting a Wisconsin Driver's License
Complete the application:
- On the form, you are asked to choose a 'category.' You are considered a temporary visitor, so check that box.
- If you qualify for a social security number (SSN), you must have one and list it on the application. If you do not qualify, then you do not need to obtain one in order to obtain a driver's license. Remember, you only qualify for a SSN if you are legally employed.
- Bring application along with the following documents to the DMV:
After presenting your documents to the DMV, you will have to take the following tests:
- Vision test
- Written test (How to prepare for the test: Study the Wisconsin Motorist Handbook.
- Practical test, often called 'behind the wheel' test
- Pay license fee. View current charges.
Buying a Car
You can buy cars from a dealership or from a personal advertisement. There are certain laws and responsibilities you have to obey when you own a car. Please remember that owning a car is expensive. You will need to be able to pay for the registration costs, monthly insurance, gas, storage over summer/winter breaks, parking, and any upkeep and repair bills. We recommend new students to wait with buying cars until they are more familiar with all the rules and regulations in the United States.
Register your car. Don't delay in registering your car. You must display license plates (permanent or temporary) within two days of purchasing a vehicle and within two days of establishing residency in the state.
Purchase car insurance. Registering and getting insurance go hand-in-hand. You cannot drive legally without insurance coverage.
31 Means Drive (Behind K-Mart)
Mondays 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
For a list of Platteville DMV services and to verify the hours of operation, please click here.