Published: May 2, 2022Updated: August 4, 2022

Teen Driving Laws by State

What young drivers need to know before getting behind the wheel

In the United States, many teens can start driving with supervision around age 15 and become fully licensed within a year. States have special laws for drivers under age 18 because they are less experienced than adult drivers. Laws vary by state, and it’s important for teens and guardians to be familiar with them in order to avoid penalties and higher insurance costs. We’ll walk through the restrictions state by state and tell you what you need to know about insuring a teen driver.

Why Are Restrictions Placed on Teen Drivers?

Because teens are inexperienced drivers, they are at a much higher risk of getting into a car accident than adult drivers.

Why Are Restrictions Placed on Teen Drivers

DID YOU KNOW?

Per mile driven, the accident rate for teen drivers is nearly four times that of drivers age 20 and older.

Distracted driving, alcohol, and speeding also contribute to risky teen driving. Of teens involved in fatal crashes, 27 percent were speeding and 16 percent had been drinking.1 A study by AAA found that distracted driving may cause 58 percent of teen crashes.2

States place special restrictions on teen drivers in order to reduce the risk of car accidents and fatalities. Studies find that these restrictions indeed reduce the risk of crashes among teens. For example, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that after the U.S. introduced graduated driver’s license (GDL) programs in the 1990s, the traffic fatality rate fell by 68 percent for 16-year-old drivers, 59 percent for drivers 17 years old, 52 percent for 18-year-olds, and 47 percent for 19-year-olds.3

The study also identified the five most effective laws for preventing teen fatalities and crashes:

  1. Minimum permit age of 16
  2. Minimum intermediate license age of 17
  3. At least 65 hours of supervised practice driving
  4. Night driving curfew that begins at 8 p.m.
  5. No teenage passengers

Restrictions Placed on Teen Drivers

The various laws governing teen drivers are designed to ensure they learn to drive safely under supervision and to limit the highest-risk behaviors.

GDL Programs

Graduated Drivers Licensing

All states and the District of Columbia have some form of GDL program, which mandates that teens must learn how to drive under adult supervision. The specifics of GDL programs vary by state, but they typically consist of three stages:

  • Stage 1: Learner’s/instructional permit. A teen must take a vision test and a written road knowledge test to receive their permit. After that, they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, or any adult who is a licensed driver, while behind the wheel. All vehicle occupants must wear seat belts. If the police pull a teen over and find they have any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0 percent, it will count as a DUI. After six months with no crashes or traffic violation convictions, a teen may apply for an intermediate license.
  • Stage 2: Intermediate license. To receive their intermediate license, a teen has to take a driving test. Then, for the most part, they may drive without adult supervision, unless they’re driving at night or with multiple passengers. After 12 consecutive months with no crashes or traffic violations, or after they turn 18, teens acquire their full license.
  • Stage 3: Full license. This is an unrestricted license, the same as what most adults hold.

Curfews

Limited visibility, fatigue, and an increased number of drunk drivers on the road make driving at night dangerous for all drivers, but it’s a particularly large risk for teens.

Per mile driven, the fatal crash rate of 16- to 19-year-olds is about four times as high at night as it is during the day. That’s why many states impose a curfew that limits night driving for teenagers. While many curfews begin around midnight, research finds that nighttime teen crashes often occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Passengers

The presence of passengers is another high-risk situation for teen drivers. Even one passenger increases crash risk among teen drivers, especially if the passenger is another teen5. In 15 percent of teen crashes caused by driver inattention, the driver was interacting with one of their passengers.

Phones

Distracted driving is dangerous for all drivers, including teens. Among teen crashes caused by driver inattention, 12 percent involved drivers using cell phones. Because distracted driving can pose such a risk, some GDL programs place specific restrictions on cellphone use for teen drivers.

For example, some states allow hands-free cell phone use for adult drivers but do not allow teens the same privilege. In some states, teens cannot use any electronic devices while driving, whether handheld or hands-free.

School Performance

Some states link teen driving privileges to school performance. For example, in Alabama, for every disciplinary point a teen receives after age 12 (e.g., for suspension or truancy), they must wait an additional week before applying for a learner’s permit. Other states require teens to be enrolled in school or have a high school diploma or equivalent in order to obtain a permit or license.

Teen Driving Restrictions by State

Explore the teen driving laws in your state with the chart below.6

State Minimum age for learner’s permit Curfew Supervision Passengers Electronic devices School requirements URL
Alabama 15 12 a.m.- 6 a.m.

Exceptions:

Accompanied by a legal guardian, parent, or licensed adult 21 or older with parental consent

 

Going to or from place of work, school or religious-sponsored event, due to a medical, fire, or law enforcement emergency, or driving to or from hunting/fishing activities in possession of required licenses

Licensed driver 21 or older for 15-year-olds Any licensed driver for 16-year-olds or older Can’t have more than 1 non-family members other than parent, guardian, or supervising licensed driver 21 or older Can’t use any non-essential handheld communication device None https://www.alea.gov/dps/driver-license/document-requirements-and-fees

 

https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/teendriving/graduated-drivers-license.html

Alaska 14 1 a.m- 5.00 a.m.

 

Exceptions:

 

Accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older

 

Driving to or from place of employment among most direct route

Licensed driver 21 or older with at least 1 year of experience in the type of vehicle you are driving; must be in passenger seat Can’t have passengers under 21 unless they’re siblings or legal guardians Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/akol/permit.htm

 

https://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/forms/pdfs/433.pdf

 

https://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/akol/fees.htm

Arizona 15.5 None Licensed driver 21 or older; must be in passenger seat None Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://azdot.gov/motor-vehicles/driver-services/teen-drivers/permit-and-license-requirements#:~:text=The%20teen%20must%20be%20at,with%20parental%20or%20guardian%20supervision.

 

https://apps.azdot.gov/files/mvd/mvd-forms-lib/99-0117.pdf

Arkansas 14 None Licensed driver 21 or older Can’t have more than 1 passenger under the age of 18 Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/driver-services/license-id-and-permits/graduated-licenses/learners-and-intermediate-license

 

https://static.ark.org/eeuploads/asp/teen_drivers_gdl_safety_message_122015.pdf

California 15.5 11 p.m.- 5 a.m. Licensed driver who is your parent, guardian, or adult 25 years or older; must be in passenger seat Can’t have passengers under 20 years old Exceptions: Accompanied by a parent or guardian, a licensed driver 25 years or older, or a licensed/certified driving instructor. Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-licenses-identification-cards/instruction-permits/
Colorado 15 12 a.m.- 5 a.m

 

Exceptions: Going to or from place of work, school or religious-sponsored event, due to a medical, fire, or law enforcement emergency, and emancipated minors

Licensed driver, driving instructor, parent, legal or guardian 21 years or older; must be in passenger seat No restrictions on passengers if accompanied by a driving instructor, parent, legal guardian, or licensed adult 21 years of age or older in the front seat Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://www.codot.gov/safety/colorado-teen-drivers/parent/teen-driving-restrictions.html
Connecticut 16 11 p.m.- 5 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Going to or from place of work, school or religious-sponsored event, due to a medical, fire, or law enforcement emergency, or if the individual is an assigned driver in the Safe Ride Program

Driving instructor, parent, legal guardian or a licensed driver who is at least 20 Driving instructor, parents, legal guardian or a licensed driver who is at least 20 Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://portal.ct.gov/DMV/Easy-Answers/Easy-Answers-Webpages/Learners-Permit—16-and-17-Year-Olds
Delaware 16 11 p.m.- 5 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Accompanied by a legal guardian, parent, or licensed adult 25 or older with parental consent Going to or from place of work, school or religious-sponsored event

Driving instructor, parent, legal guardian or a licensed driver who is at least 25 years old and has held a Class D license for at least 5 years; must be in passenger seat Can’t have more than 1 non-family members other than parent, guardian, or supervising licensed driver for the first 12 months. Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://www.dmv.de.gov/DriverServices/drivers_license/index.shtml?dc=dr_lic_grad_dl
Florida 15 Can’t drive whenever the sun has set for first 3 months, and from month 4 on, after 10 p.m. Licensed driver 21 years or older; must be in passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use any wireless communication device Must maintain school attendance https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licenses-id-cards/licensing-requirements-teens-graduated-driver-license-laws-driving-curfews/
Georgia 15 12 a.m.- 5 a.m. Licensed driver 21 years or older; must be in passenger seat 1 licensed driver 21 years or older and immediate family members Can’t use any wireless communication device Enrolled in school https://dds.georgia.gov/how-do-i-learners-permit
Hawaii 15.5 11 p.m.- 5 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Parent or guardian must be in passenger seat

Licensed driver 21 years or older; must be in passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use any wireless communication device None https://www.honolulu.gov/cms-csd-menu/site-csd-sitearticles/679-faqs-about-driver-s-license.html#permit_automobile

 

https://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/files/2017/01/GDL-Brochure.pdf

Idaho 14.5 11 p.m.- 5 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Parent or guardian must be in passenger seat

Licensed driver 21 years or older; must be in passenger seat Passengers not allowed in the front seat if driver is under the age of 16.

 

If under the age of 17 during first 6 months, can only have 1 passenger under 17 unless related by blood, adoption, or marriage

Can’t use any wireless communication device Enrolled in school https://itd.idaho.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/3506_gdlfactsheet.pdf
Illinois 15 10 p.m- 6 a.m.

 

Sunday- Thursday 11 p.m.- 6 a.m. Friday- Saturday

Licensed driver age 21 or older with at least 1 year of driving experience 1 in the first seat, and no more passengers than the number of seat belts in the back seat If under 19, can’t use any electronic devices, even hands-free, except in case of an emergency None https://www.ilsos.gov/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_x173.pdf

 

https://www.ilsos.gov/departments/drivers/teen_driver_safety/gdl.html

Indiana 15 None If under 16, licensed driving instructor or certified driver rehabilitation specialist, a licensed driver 25 or older that must be related to you by blood, marriage, or legal status, or a spouse if they’re licensed and at least 21. Must be in front passenger seat.

 

If under 18, licensed driver 25 or older and related, spouse at least 21, or driver education instructor in front passenger seat.

 

If under 18 and under the care/supervision of Department of Child Services, licensed driver 25 or older and related, or a licensed driver 25 or older approved by Department of Child Services, in passenger’s seat.

 

If 18 or older, any licensed driver 25 or older, or spouse if licensed and 21 or older

No restrictions on passengers Can’t use any wireless communication device except to make emergency 911 calls None https://www.in.gov/bmv/licenses-permits-ids/learners-permits-and-drivers-licenses-overview/learners-permit/
Iowa 14 None Parent, guardian, custodian, an immediate family member at least 21, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 years with written permission from your parent, guardian, or custodian; supervisors must have valid driver’s licenses Can’t carry more passengers than the number of seat belts in the vehicle Can’t use any wireless communication device except to make emergency 911 calls None https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/under-18
Kansas 14 None Licensed adult at least 21 in front seat at all times No restrictions on passengers If under 17, can’t use any wireless communication device except to make emergency 911 calls None https://www.ksrevenue.gov/dovgdl.html
Kentucky 16 12 a.m.- 6 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Emergencies, school or work-related activities

Licensed adult at least 21 in front passenger seat at all times Except when accompanied by a driver training instructor, permit holders under 18 can’t drive with more than one unrelated person under the age of 20 If under 18, can’t use cell phones, even hands-free (except for emergencies) Enrolled in school https://drive.ky.gov/driver-licensing/Pages/Graduated-Driver-Licensing-Program.aspx

 

https://drive.ky.gov/driver-licensing/Documents/Parent%20Guide%20-%20Teaching%20Your%20Teen%20.pdf

Louisiana 15 12 a.m.- 5 a.m.

 

Exceptions: When accompanied by a licensed parent or legal guardian with at least 1 year of driving experience

Licensed parent, guardian, or adult at least 21, or a licensed sibling at least 18 No restrictions on passengers if accompanied by licensed parent, guardian, or adult at least 21, or a licensed sibling at least 18 Can’t use any wireless communication device, even hands-free, except to make emergency 911 calls None https://expresslane.dps.louisiana.gov/CDLForms/CLASS%20E%20Learner’s%20Permit%20requirements.pdf
Maine 15 12 a.m.- 5 a.m. Licensed driver who’s at least 20 and has held a valid license for at least 2 years; must sit in front passenger seat at all times Licensed driver who’s at least 20 and has held a valid license for at least 2 years, and immediate family members Can’t use electronic handheld device or cellphone None https://www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/licenses/age.html#fifteen
Maryland 15.75 None Licensed driver 21 years or older who has held a license for at least 3 years; must be in passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use phones at all, even hands-free, except when making an emergency 911 call Yes, if under 16, must be in school or home school and cannot have more than 10 unexcused absences during the prior school semester https://mva.maryland.gov/drivers/Pages/rookie-driver-general-learners.aspx

 

https://onestop.md.gov/licenses/non-commercial-learner-s-permit-5d15409b54f24d03e9997b04

 

https://mva.maryland.gov/about-mva/Pages/fees.aspx

 

https://mva.maryland.gov/Documents/RD-016.pdf

Massachusetts 16 If under 18, can’t drive between 12 a.m.- 5 a.m Exceptions: Accompanied by a parent/legal guardian who has a valid license and at least 1 year of driving experience Licensed driver at least 21 with at least 1 year of driving experience in the passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Not allowed to use any electronic devices, even in hands-free mode None https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-a-passenger-class-d-learners-permit

 

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/junior-operator-license-jol-requirements

 

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/hands-free-law

Michigan 14.75 None Licensed parent or guardian, any licensed driver 21 or older that the parent/guardian has designated, or teen-certified education provider No restrictions on passengers Handheld ban except to report a traffic accident, medical emergency, serious road hazard, situation in which you think your personal safety is in jeopardy, or a crime/potential crime against yourself or another person None http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(jqmumoidmxydjmhcsedt2xfl))/ErrorHandler.aspx

 

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/gdl_parent_16316_7.pdf

 

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Michigan_supervised_driving_log_572744_7.pdf

 

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/MI_GDL_Licensing_SOS380_515146_7.pdf

 

https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127–75447–,00.html

Minnesota 15 For first 6 months, can’t drive between 12 a.m.-5 a.m. Exceptions: Accompanied by a licensed driver 25 or older, driving to/from place of employment, school event and home, or driving for employment purposes Licensed driver at least 21 For the first 6 months, only 1 passenger under 20 permitted Exceptions: Licensed parent/guardian For second 6 months, can have up to 3 passengers under 20 Exceptions: Immediate family members Can’t use a cell phone at all while driving if under 18 None https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/teen-driving/Pages/faq.aspx#:~:text=To%20qualify%20for%20an%20instruction,and%20pass%20a%20knowledge%20test.

 

https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/forms-documents/Documents/InstructionPermitFAQ.pdf

 

https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/Pages/drivers-license-fees.aspx

Mississippi 15 None Licensed driver at least 21 in passenger’s seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use a wireless communication device while the vehicle is in motion unless you’re reporting reckless/negligent behavior, believe you or someone else is in physical danger, or are communicating for an emergency situation School attendance form for 15-17-year-olds. If under 18 and married, this form isn’t required, but must present marriage license. Also not required for 17 -year-olds 2 months away from their 18th birthdays https://www.driverservicebureau.dps.ms.gov/Drivers/Learners_Permit

 

https://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2018/title-63/chapter-1/article-1/section-63-1-21/

 

https://law.justia.com/codes/mississippi/2013/title-63/chapter-1/article-1/section-63-1-73

Missouri 15 None If under 16, must have a parent, legal guardian, grandparent, qualified driving instructor, or licensed driver 25 or older who has a minimum of 3 years of licensure and written permission from a parent/guardian or their designee, if disabled; for drivers over 16, need a licensed driver at least 21 in the front passenger seat No restrictions on passengers If under 21, can’t use a handheld mobile device while driving unless you’re reporting illegal activity, summoning medical/emergency help, or preventing injury to a person or property None https://dor.mo.gov/driver-license/issuance/id-requirements.html#dccumentsrequired

 

https://dor.mo.gov/driver-license/issuance/graduated-driver-license/parent-guardian-role.html#:~:text=full%20driver%20license.-,Instruction%20Permit%20%E2%80%93%20Minimum%20Age%2015,the%20Missouri%20Instruction%20Permit%20document

 

https://dor.mo.gov/driver-license/issuance/graduated-driver-license/details.html

 

https://dor.mo.gov/driver-license/resources/license.html#fees

 

https://revisor.mo.gov/main/OneSection.aspx?section=304.820

 

Montana 14.5 None Licensed parent or guardian, or licensed driver 18 or older who the parent/guardian authorized No restrictions on passengers No statewide law barring use of cell phones while driving, but most cities in the state ban texting/talking on phones while driving None https://dojmt.gov/getyourpermit/

 

https://dojmt.gov/wp-content/uploads/Montana-Driver-Manual.pdf

 

https://www.enjuris.com/montana/car-accident/distracted-driving-accidents.html#:~:text=Montana%20is%20the%20ONLY%20state,not%20for%20lack%20of%20trying.&text=The%20Montana%20legislature%20has%20attempted,least%20twice%20in%20recent%20years.

Nebraska 15 None Licensed driver 21 or older in front passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use handheld devices while driving None https://dmv.nebraska.gov/dl/learners-permit

 

https://dhhs.ne.gov/Documents/Distracted%20Driving.pdf

Nevada 15.5 None Licensed driver 21 or older who has had a license for at least 1 year in front passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Handheld ban except for reporting a medical emergency, safety hazard, or criminal activity Under 18: must prove that you meet minimum school attendance requirements https://dmv.nv.gov/nvdlteens.htm

 

https://www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/nrs-484b.html#NRS484BSec165

New Hampshire 15.5 (but technically no learner’s permit, just license) If under 18, can’t drive between 1 a.m.- 4 a.m. Licensed parent, guardian, or adult at least 25 in front passenger seat Within first 6 months, if under 18, can’t drive more than 1 passenger under 25 unless they’re family, or you’re accompanied by a licensed and responsible driver 25 or older Handheld ban for all drivers None https://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/dmv/driver-licensing/index.htm
New Jersey 16 11:01 p.m.- 5 a.m. Adult 21 or older with a valid New Jersey driver’s license and at least 3 years of driving experience Only parents, guardians, or dependents, plus only 1 other passenger unless accompanied by parent/guardian No electronic device use allowed, even if hands-free None https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/license/firstlic.htm

 

https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/pdf/license/drivermanual.pdf

 

https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/license/licfees.htm

New Mexico 15 12 p.m.- 5 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Unless accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older or traveling to or from school or work, for medical needs, or religious functions

Licensed driver 21 or older with at least 3 years of driving experience Can’t have more than 1 passenger under 21 unless they’re an immediate family member or there is a licensed driver 21 or older in the car Handheld ban None https://transportation.unm.edu/assets/NM-GDL-Law.pdf

 

https://www.nmlegis.gov/sessions/15%20Regular/bills/house/HB0104.PDF

 

https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/nm-drivers-licenses-ids/drivers-license/apply-for-a-learners-permit/

 

https://www.mvd.newmexico.gov/nm-drivers-licenses-ids/

New York 16 9:01 p.m.- 4:59 a.m. Driver 21 or older with a valid license No restrictions on passengers Handheld ban None https://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/cell-phone-use-texting

 

https://dmv.ny.gov/permits

North Carolina 15 First 6 months, can only drive between 5 a.m.- 9 p.m. Licensed adult in front passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use mobile devices at all None https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/license-id/driver-licenses/new-drivers/Pages/license-learner-permit.aspx
North Dakota 14 None Adult 18 or older with at least 3 years of driving experience in front seat Can’t have more passengers than car is designed to carry Can’t use mobile devices at all None https://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/driverslicense/permit.htm

 

https://www.ndhealth.gov/injury/publications/nd_teen_licensing.pdf

Ohio 15.5 12 a.m.-6 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Accompanied by a parent or legal guardian with a valid license in the passenger seat

Parent or legal guardian with a valid license If the driver is under 17, can’t have more than 1 passenger who isn’t a family member unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian Can’t use mobile devices at all None https://www.bmv.ohio.gov/dl-gdl.aspx https://www.bmv.ohio.gov/doc-fees.aspx https://www.firsttimedriver.com/ohio/drivers-permit/ https://driversed.com/trending/drivers-ed-required-ohio

https://driversed.com/ohio/teen-drivers-ed-faq/

Oklahoma 15.5 Can only drive between 5 a.m.- 10 p.m. Licensed driver 21 or older in front seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t text while driving; must “devote…full time and attention” to driving None https://oklahoma.gov/dps/obtain-an-oklahoma-driver-license-id-card/original-drivers-license-under-18/learner-permit.html

 

https://oklahoma.gov/content/dam/ok/en/dps/documents/Final%20REAL%20ID%20checklist%205-5-21.pdf

 

https://oklahoma.gov/content/dam/ok/en/dps/docs/2017-odm.pdff

 

https://ohso.ok.gov/distracted-laws

 

https://law.justia.com/codes/oklahoma/2014/title-47/section-47-11-901b/#:~:text=Motor%20Vehicles-,%C2%A747%2D11%2D901b.,time%20and%20attention%20to%20driving.&text=The%20operator%20of%20every%20vehicle,and%20attention%20to%20such%20driving.

Oregon 15 If under 18, can’t drive between 12 p.m.- 5 a.m. Exceptions: Driving between home and work/school event, or with a licensed driver 25 or older Licensed drivers 21 or older if driver is under 18 First 6 months, if under 18, can’t have passengers under age 20 except for immediate family After the first 6 months, can carry up to 3 non-family passengers under age 20 All cell phone use prohibited, even hands-free None https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_811.507

 

https://www.oregon.gov/odot/dmv/teen/pages/permit.aspx

Pennsylvania 16 None Licensed driver over 21 or parent, guardian, person in loco parentis, or licensed spouse 18 or older in front seat If under 18, can’t have more passengers than the number of seat belts Can’t text while driving None https://www.dmv.pa.gov/Driver-Services/Driver-Licensing/Driver-Manual/Chapter-1/Pages/Applying-for-a-Learner’s-Permit.aspx

 

https://www.dmv.pa.gov/Information-Centers/Payment/Pages/Payments-and-Fees-Page.aspx

 

https://www.penndot.pa.gov/TravelInPA/Safety/TrafficSafetyAndDriverTopics/Pages/Distracted-Driving.aspx

Rhode Island 16 None Licensed driver 21 or older with at least 5 years of licensure in front passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use handheld wireless devices, but can use hands-free systems like GPS None https://dmv.ri.gov/licenses-permits-ids/permits-tests/new-license-permits

 

https://dmv.ri.gov/licenses-permits-ids/permits-tests/permit-fees

 

http://www.dot.ri.gov/projects/HandsFree/documents/Hands_Free_Law_Enacted_7-10-17.pdf

South Carolina 15 Can only drive from 6 a.m.- 12 a.m. Licensed driver at least 21 with at least 1 year of driving experience in front seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t text and drive None https://dc.statelibrary.sc.gov/bitstream/handle/10827/27492/DMV_Drivers_Manual_2011.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

https://scdps.sc.gov/ohsjp/DrivinginSC/distracted-driving-law

South Dakota 14 Can only drive between 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

 

Exceptions: A parent/legal guardian must be in front seat

If under 18, must have a parent/legal guardian, or another licensed adult with 1 year of driving experience in front seat If over 18, must have any licensed adult with at least 1 year of driving experience in front seat First 6 months of permit, can’t have any passengers outside of immediate family/household.

 

After 6 months, can have 1 passenger outside of immediate family/household

Can’t use any wireless communication devices while driving None https://dps.sd.gov/driver-licensing/south-dakota-licensing-information/fees

 

 

Tennessee 15 10 p.m.- 6 a.m. Licensed driver at least 21 in front seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use cell phones while driving Must prove attendance/satisfactory progress in school https://www.tn.gov/safety/driver-services/classd/gdl.html

 

https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/safety/documents/DL_Manual.pdf

Texas 15 12 a.m.- 5 a.m. Licensed driver 21 or older in front passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use wireless communication device, even in hands-free mode, except for emergencies Evidence of enrollment, diploma or GED https://www.dps.texas.gov/section/driver-license/how-apply-texas-driver-license-teen

 

https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/forms/dl-7.pdf

 

http://www.education4drivers.com/texas/permit-restrictions-rules.htm

Utah 15 If 15-17: 12 a.m.- 5 a.m.

 

 

Exceptions: If accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older in front passenger seat Driving from work, school, or farming-related activity, or emergencies

If 15-17: A licensed driving instructor, parent or legal guardian in front passenger seat If over 18: A licensed driver 21 or older in front passenger seat If 15-17: A licensed driving instructor, parent or legal guardian in front passenger seat; immediate family members allowed

 

If over 18: A licensed driver 21 or older in front passenger seat; other passengers allowed in vehicle

Can’t use communication devices while driving None https://dld.utah.gov/learner-permit/

 

https://dld.utah.gov/minorteen-restrictions/

 

http://www.education4drivers.com/utah/permit-restrictions-rules.htm

Vermont 15 None Licensed and unimpaired parent, guardian, driver education instructor or individual 25 or older sitting in the front passenger seat No restrictions on passengers Can’t use any portable electronic device even while vehicle is parked on a public highway None https://dmv.vermont.gov/licenses/identity-documents

 

https://dmv.vermont.gov/enforcement-and-safety/road-safety/distracted-driving

Virginia 15.5 If under 18: 12 a.m.- 4 a.m.

 

Exceptions: Driving for work, school, religious-related activities If a licensed parent or guardian sits in the front passenger seat, or emergencies

Licensed driver at least 21 in front passenger seat; may be 18 if they are your legal guardian or immediate family member

 

Exception: If you are at least 16 and 3 months and under 18, you have had your permit for 9 months, and hold a parent-signed Virginia Driving Training Certificate, you may drive without a licensed driver

If under 18: Not more than 1 passenger under 18 allowed except for family members If over 18: No driving alone with passengers in the vehicle

 

Exceptions: Must be accompanied by another licensed driver

Can’t use cell phone even in hands-free mode, unless parked or fully stopped to make an emergency phone call None https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/drivers/#eligibility.asp http://www.education4drivers.com/virginia/permit-restrictions-rules.htm
Washington 15 1 a.m.- 5 a.m. Exceptions: Accompanied by a licensed driver 25 or older Licensed driver with at least 5 years of driving experience in front passenger seat. Passengers allowed if they wear seat belts Can’t use wireless communication device, even in hands-free mode, unless reporting an emergency None https://www.drivinglaws.org/resources/washington-teen-driving.html

 

https://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/getpermit.html

West Virginia 15 10 p.m.- 5 a.m. Licensed driver at least 21 in front passenger seat Not more than 2 non-family passengers in addition to the supervising adult Can’t use wireless communication device, even in hands-free mode Enrolled in school or GED program or graduated https://www.permit-tests.com/west-virginia/dmv-teen-permit-requirements

 

http://www.wvlegislature.gov/wvcode/chapterentire.cfm?chap=17C&art=14&section=15

Wisconsin 15.5 Must have qualified instructor or licensed person 25 or older with at least 2 years driving experience A qualified instructor, parent, guardian or spouse 19 or older, or a person 21 or older; if the permit holder is under 18, the licensed supervisor must have written authorization for the minor’s parent or guardian A qualified instructor, parent, guardian or spouse 19 or older, or a person 21 or older Immediate family members allowed to ride in the back seat Can’t use wireless communication device unless reporting an emergency Enrolled in school or in a home-school program (if under 18) https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/teen-driver/yr-frst-lcns/permit.aspx

 

https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/dmv/shared/bds126-motorists-handbook.pdf

Wyoming 15 11 p.m.- 5 a.m. Exceptions: A licensed driver is 18 or older in the front passenger seat Licensed driver at least 18 in front passenger seat Only 1 passenger under 18 allowed who is not an immediate family member Can’t use wireless communication or electronic handheld device None https://www.dot.state.wy.us/home/driver_license_records/driver-license/learner-permits.html

Penalties Specific to Teen Drivers

To encourage safer driving, states subject teens to harsher penalties than adult drivers.

Alcohol

Surprisingly, teen drivers are less likely than adults to drink and drive. Over the past 30 years, raising the minimum drinking age to 21, zero-tolerance underage BAC laws, and GDL restrictions like required adult supervision and curfews have all contributed to a decrease in teen drinking and driving.

However, due to teens’ inexperience, their crash risk is higher when they drink and drive. Drivers between 16 and 20 years old with BAC levels of 0.05 to 0.079 percent are 12 times more likely to be killed in single-vehicle crashes than sober teen drivers.7 Adult drivers with similar BAC levels are nine times more likely to be in a fatal crash than sober adult drivers.

Many states impose stricter DUI laws on teens than adult drivers. For example, while all states as well as Washington, D.C., have a BAC limit of 0.08 percent, many states charge drivers under the age of 21 with DUI if their BAC is above 0 or 0.02 percent.

Additionally, some states impose driving restrictions as a punishment for underage consumption of, possession of, or attempts to buy alcohol. These are known as “use/lose laws,” and they can either be mandatory or at the court’s discretion.

Explore your state’s laws on underage drinking and driving in the chart below.8

State BAC limit for drivers under 21 Use/lose law Penalties for underage DUI
Alabama 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first violation results in a 30-day license suspension. Additional penalties can include revocation and required participation in a DUI or substance abuse program.
Alaska 0% No A minor operating a vehicle after consumption of alcohol is an infraction. A first violation is punishable by a fine of $500 and 20-40 hours of community service. A second violation is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and 40-60 hours of community service. Where there are 2 or more prior violations, the court must impose a fine of $1,500 and require 60-80 hours of community service.
Arizona 0% Yes, discretionary For a first violation, penalties can include up to 10 days in prison, a fine up to $1,600, and license suspension for up to 360 days.
Arkansas 0.02% Yes, mandatory Penalties can include driver’s license suspension for up to 6 months, a jail sentence of 24 hours to 1 year, a fine of up to $1,000, and public service work.
California 0.05% Yes, mandatory Penalties can include driver’s license suspension and mandatory attendance in a DUI prevention program.
Colorado 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first offense can be punished with a 3-month license suspension, a fine, and community service.
Connecticut 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first offense can be punished by a $500-$1,000 fine, imprisonment for up to 6 months, license suspension for up to 45 days, and the required use of an ignition interlock system for up to 1 year.
Delaware 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first offense can be punished by a 2-month license suspension and a fine of up to $200.
District of Columbia 0% Yes, mandatory A first offense can be punished by a fine of up to $300, 90 days in jail, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.
Florida 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first offense can be punished with a driver’s license suspension. If the BAC is 0.05% or higher, the suspension will stay in place until the completion of a substance abuse course.
Georgia 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first offense is deemed a misdemeanor and can be punished by participation in an alcohol risk-reduction program, a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months, and up to 40 hours of community service.
Hawaii 0% Yes, mandatory For a first violation, the minor and their guardian must attend an alcohol abuse education and counseling program. Drivers under 18 face a prompt 180-day license suspension. Drivers ages 18-20 face a 30-day suspension, with limited use for up to 180 days after the suspension.
Idaho 0.02% Yes, mandatory A violation is considered a misdemeanor, and punishment for a first offense can include a fine of up to $1,000, license suspension for 1 year, and participation in an alcohol evaluation.
Illinois 0% Yes, mandatory A violation results in license suspension for 3-6 months, among other possible penalties.
Indiana 0.02% No A violation involving a 0.02%-0.08% BAC can result in the suspension of driving privileges for up to 1 year and a fine of up to $500. For a violation involving a BAC of 0.08% or higher, punishments can include up to 60 days in prison, required participation in an alcohol abuse program, and up to 180 hours of community service.
Iowa 0.02% Yes, discretionary For a first offense with a BAC less than 0.08%, a minor will have their license suspended for 6 months and will not be eligible for temporary restricted licenses for an additional 60 days. For an offense involving a BAC of 0.08% or higher, punishments can include license suspension, up to 1 year in prison, and a fine of up to $1,250.
Kansas 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender with a 0.02%-0.08% BAC can be punished with a 30-day license suspension. If a minor has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, they also face license suspension for 30 days, with restrictions for an additional 330 days, as well as up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Kentucky 0.02% No For a first offense not involving a BAC of 0.08 or higher, a minor will have their license suspended for 30-180 days and face a fine of up to $500 or up to 20 hours of community service. For a first offense involving a BAC of 0.08% or higher, a minor can face a fine up to $500, or up to 30 days in prison, community service, and license suspension for up to 18 months.
Louisiana 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $250, imprisonment for up to 3 months, community service, and license suspension.
Maine 0% No A juvenile with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle will have their license suspended for 1 year for a first-time violation. A juvenile who refuses to take a chemical test faces a license suspension of 18 months. A juvenile with a BAC of 0.08% or higher faces prosecution for OUI with a license suspension of at least 1 year, a fine of up to $500, and at least 2 days in prison.
Maryland 0% Yes, discretionary A first-time violator must participate in the ignition interlock program. A minor convicted of DUI (BAC of 0.08% or higher) faces license suspension, a fine of up to $1,000, and up to 1 year in jail.
Massachusetts 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time violator age 18-20 will have their license suspended for 180 days. A violator under age 18 will have their license suspended for 1 year. A violator could also face a fine of up to $5,000, up to 2.5 years of jail time, and participation in a youth alcohol program.
Michigan 0% No A first-time offender faces a fine of up to $250, up to 360 hours of community service, license restriction for 30 days, and driver responsibility fees of $500 for 2 years.
Minnesota 0% No A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces license suspension for 30 days. If the BAC is 0.08% or higher, the offender faces a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, and a license suspension for up to 90 days.
Mississippi 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces a fine of up to $250, mandatory participation in an alcohol safety education program, license suspension for up to 90 days, and attendance at victim impact panels. An offender with a BAC of 0.08% or higher also faces a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 2 days in prison.
Missouri 0.02% Yes, mandatory An offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces license suspension for 30 days, participation in a substance abuse program, a fee of up to $249, and a license reinstatement fee.
Montana 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces a fine of up to $500, participation in a chemical dependency education course, license suspension for 90 days, and a license reinstatement fee.
Nebraska 0.02% Yes, discretionary A first-time violator faces a license suspension for up to 6 months, a fine of up to $500, and imprisonment for up to 60 days.
Nevada 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces license suspension for 90 days, a fine of up to $1,000, and jail time of 2 days to 6 months. An underage offender must also submit to a substance abuse evaluation.
New Hampshire 0.02% Yes, discretionary A first-time offender faces license suspension for at least 9 months, a fine of at least $500, referral to substance abuse screening and evaluation, and required participation in an impaired driver education program.
New Jersey 0.01% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces license suspension for up to 90 days, community service for up to 30 days. and participation in an alcohol and traffic safety education program.
New Mexico 0.02% Yes, discretionary A first-time offender faces license revocation for 1 year, up to 15 days in jail or up to 2 years in a rehab facility, and a fine up to $500.
New York 0.02% No A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces license revocation for 6 months and $125 in civil penalties.
North Carolina 0% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces license suspension, a fine of up to $1,000, and up to 30 days in jail.
North Dakota 0.02% No A first-time offender faces license suspension for 91 days, a fine of up to $250, and up to 1 year in jail.
Ohio 0.02% No A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces license suspension for 90 days, a fine of up to $250, and up to 30 days in jail.
Oklahoma 0% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces seizure of their license at the time of their arrest, a fine of up to $500, up to 20 hours of community service, and required participation in a treatment program.
Oregon 0% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces license suspension of up to 1 year, jail time ranging from 2 days to 1 year, and a fine of up to $1,000.
Pennsylvania 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces 2 days of jail, a fine of up to $5,000, required participation in an alcohol safety school, and alcohol treatment.
Rhode Island 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces license suspension for up to 3 months, required attendance at a course on intoxicated driving, and participation in an alcohol treatment program.
South Carolina 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces license suspension for up to 6 months, jail time for up to 30 days, and a fine of at least $400.
South Dakota 0.02% Yes, discretionary A first-time offender with a BAC under 0.08% faces license suspension for 30 days.
Tennessee 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces license suspension of 1 year and a fine of $250.
Texas 0% Yes, mandatory Penalties for a first-time offender include a 60-day license suspension, a fine of up to $500, required attendance at an alcohol awareness class, and 20-40 hours of community service.
Utah 0% Yes, mandatory Penalties for a first-time offender include a 120-day license suspension, 2 days of jail time, and a fine of up to $700.
Vermont 0.02% No A first-time offender faces a 6-month license suspension, required participation in an alcohol and driving education program and a treatment assessment, and the possible use of an ignition interlock system.
Virginia 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offense is punishable by a 1-year license forfeiture, a fine of at least $500, or at least 50 hours of community service.
Washington 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces a punishment of license suspension for 90 days, a fine of $850, and up to 1 year of jail time.
West Virginia 0.02% No A first-time offense is punishable by a fine of up to $100 and license suspension for up to 60 days.
Wisconsin 0% Yes, discretionary A first-time offender faces a 3-month suspension of their license, a fine of $200, and additional fines if there were other minor passengers.
Wyoming 0.02% Yes, mandatory A first-time offender faces a 90-day license suspension, a fine of up to $750, and mandatory substance abuse assessment and treatment.

Other Violations

Violations like speeding or not following the restrictions of the GDL can result in delays of license progressions and other penalties specific to teens.9

In addition to ensuring teen drivers follow all state laws, it’s a good idea to establish rules and expectations for teens about appropriate and safe driving behavior. You might even write out a parent-teen driving agreement to make sure you’re on the same page about driving privileges.

Auto Insurance for Teen Drivers

The cost of auto insurance for teens is higher than it is for adults because insurance providers consider teens high-risk drivers. In addition, insuring a teenage boy is typically more expensive than it is for a teenage girl. That’s because male teen drivers cause more crashes than any other group. For similar reasons, men often pay more for auto insurance than women.

Auto Insurance for Teen Drivers

The cost of auto insurance for teens decreases by age. The cost of car insurance for 16-year-olds is the highest, with an annual average of $4,368. The cost of car insurance for 19-year-olds is the lowest, with an annual average of $2,758.33.

The average annual cost of auto insurance for 17-year-olds and the average annual cost of auto insurance for 18-year-olds are about the same, at $3,925 and $3,952.75, respectively.

Usually, it’s cheaper to add a teen to your auto policy, rather than buy them a separate policy. To find the best deal, get quotes from a few providers and ask about discounts. It’s best if a teen drives a vehicle with safety features that isn’t too expensive, as it will most likely need repairs.

TIP

Some providers offer discounts if a teen maintains a good GPA, is in college or taking college classes, or took a defensive driving course.

Recap

Due to their inexperience, teens are subject to stricter driving laws, face increased penalties for violations, and pay the most for insurance. Teens and their families should familiarize themselves with teen driving laws in order to avoid penalties and stay safe on the road.

FAQs

Read on for answers to your additional questions about teen driving laws.

Teen driving laws have changed quite a bit over the past 30 years.

In the 1990s, states began adopting GDL laws, which impose special restrictions on teen drivers and require them to learn to drive under adult supervision. By 2006, all states had some form of GDL laws. Before that, most states allowed teens full driving privileges at the age of 16. Over the years, many studies have found that teen driving laws reduce crashes and fatalities.

If a teen breaks the law while driving — for example, by driving drunk or not following the provisions of their GDL — the cost of their auto insurance will likely increase. Insurance premiums will increase even more if the teen is at fault in an accident. The cost of insurance might not increase for more minor violations, like speeding by fewer than 10 or 20 miles over the limit.

In some cases, driving laws stipulate that parents are liable for teens’ actions on the road. Specifically, if a parent knows that their teen is a danger to others on the road (e.g., the teen has a history of at-fault accidents or tickets for reckless driving) and allows them to drive unsupervised, the parent may be liable if the teen causes an accident.

Parents hold strong influence over teens’ driving. Studies find that when parents impose driving restrictions beyond what the law requires and set a good example for driving behavior themselves, teens tend to drive more safely and get into fewer crashes.

Some states have stricter teen driving laws than others because, as with any other driving law, each state can determine their own teen driving laws.

Citations

  1. Teen Driving. NHTSA. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving

  2. Using Naturalistic Driving Data to Assess the Prevalence of Environmental Factors and Driver Behaviors in Teen Driver Crashes. AAA. (2015, Mar). https://aaafoundation.org/using-naturalistic-driving-data-assess-prevalence-environmental-factors-driver-behaviors-teen-driver-crashes/

  3. Background On: Teen drivers. III. (2021, Oct). https://www.iii.org/article/background-on-teen-drivers

  4. Graduated Driver Licensing Night Driving Restrictions and Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Night Crashes — United States, 2009–2014. CDC. (2016, Jul).
    https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6529a1.htm?s_cid=mm6529a1_w

  5. Estimating the Effect of Passengers in Fatal and Non-fatal Crashes Involving Teen Drivers. National Academies. (2022). https://trid.trb.org/view/1572736

  6. Graduated licensing laws by state. IIHS. (2022). https://www.iihs.org/topics/teenagers/graduated-licensing-laws-table

  7. Alcohol-related risk of driver fatalities: an update using 2007 data. PubMed.gov. (2012, May). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22456239/

  8. DUI Under 21 Laws by State. FindLaw. (2018, Oct). https://www.findlaw.com/dui/laws-resources/dui-under-21-laws-by-state.html

  9. State Penalties for Graduated Driver’s License Violations. NCSL. (2011). https://www.ncsl.org/documents/transportation/GDLpenalty.pdf