Yeah. I'm not sure how the laws have changed over time (cause it's not like I'm aging backwards or anything
), but in California the earliest you can get a license is 16. However, it's a provisional license and can only be acquired if you complete a drivers ed and drivers training course (and pass the normal written and driving tests of course). You may begin that process at 15.5 years of age, getting a learners permit (which allows driving only under very very limited conditions).
Even with the provisional license, you have restrictions. You can only drive to/from work/school. Can't drive after curfew (10 I think?). Must have an adult licensed driver with you at all times. Once you turn 18 though, all you need to get a full license is to pass the tests. Done.
In my case, since we didn't have money for the drivers training course, and didn't have extra cars sitting around (my choices were a pinto and a big honking truck with a shell on it), I just waited until I was 18 to get my license. I'd been practicing the whole time though, so theoretically my license was easy to get. Didn't turn out that way though since the aforementioned pinto had some electrical issues that decided to appear right before the **** test (literally as we pulled up to the testing place). Turn signals stopped working and the car started sputtering and stalling. Did I mention it was a stick? Hand signals while shifting and trying to keep said car from stalling didn't work out so well.
Passed no problem on second attempt though.