Driving in the United States

You must have a driver’s license and car insurance to drive in the United States. Driving without a valid driver’s license and failure to have automobile insurance are both violations of the law. Your international driver’s license authorizes you to drive in the United States for one year, but local laws and driving procedures may be very different from those in your home country. It is advisable to enroll in a driver’s education course or safe driving course prior to operating a motor vehicle in the United States.

You may also wish to obtain a Georgia driver’s license or state identification card. You will need to take a written test and a driving test in order to obtain your Georgia driver’s license, and there is a fee involved. For general driver’s license information; fo locations of the driver’s license office nearest you; to view a driver’s license manual; or for fee information, please visit the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) website: http://www.dds.ga.gov/

You will need to the take the following items with you to the driver’s license office when applying for a driver’s license:

  • Passport
  • I-20
  • I-94
  • Two forms of legal documents with your name and address on them (such as a bank statement or electric bill) Click here for a list of the things the DDS will accept. Social Security card – OR – a letter of denial from the Social Security Administration.
  • If you do not have a Social Security card, you will need to apply for one before you can even apply for a driver’s license. If the Social Security Administration denies your application for a social security number, get a letter of denial from them. You can use this to apply for your driver’s license.

Things to remember when driving in the US:

  • While driving, it is important to obey all traffic laws, speed limits, and posted signs. If you break the law and are spotted by the police, the police officer will indicate that you need to pull over by turning on a siren and by flashing the car’s blue lights.
  • As soon as you can do so safely, pull over to the side of the road without impeding the flow of traffic, or turn into a parking lot. Do not get out of your car. Park and roll down the window when the officer approaches, and remain courteous, even if you are angry or puzzled about why you were pulled over.
  • You will need to provide the officer with your driver’s license, proof of auto insurance, and the car’s registration, but wait until the police officer asks you for these items before reaching into the your glove compartment, purse or wallet to retrieve them.
  • If you are issued a citation (ticket), you will probably be subject to a fine and may be required to appear in traffic court. If you are issued a warning, you will not need to appear in court or pay a fine, and you should thank the officer for only issuing you a warning.


If you are involved in an accident involving another car, call 911 immediately and alert them to the need for an ambulance if you or other passengers are injured. It is best to avoid a confrontation with the other driver, so it might be a good idea to avoid speaking to the driver until the police officer arrives. If the accident is serious or involves a lot of damage, your insurance company will need to be notified, and you could be subject to an increase in your insurance premium.

Dalton State, 650 College Drive, Dalton, GA 30720
706.272.4436 • 1.800.829.4436 • www.daltonstate.edu