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State laws for teen drivers

Graduated driving licensing (GDL) laws that affect teen drivers differ widely by state. 

While a state like Arkansas lets a teen driver hit the road at 14, others don’t allow teens to drive until 16. 

That’s just the start. Each state also differs in when drivers reach the intermediate stage and also when they no longer restricted under GDL laws and specific restrictions. State restrictions include when you can drive and who can be in your car. 

States have GDL laws to protect young drivers and others on the road -- even though many parents don’t enforce those laws. Over the past two decades, GDL laws have led to lower teen fatalities. However, car crashes remain the number one killer of U.S. teens. Teens are three times more likely than drivers over 20 to get involved in a fatal crash. 

GDL laws involves three stages:

These stages are meant to restrict younger and inexperienced drivers and then allow them more driving privileges after they gain experience on the road. Ultimately, young drivers graduate to full privilege. Drivers in most states get full privilege at 17 or 18 years old. 

Let’s take a look at each of the stages and specific information about each state. 

 

Learner stage

The learner stage is where you’ll find novice drivers. Learner stage has the strictest restrictions. 

Young drivers will need to get a learner’s permit and hold it for a period of time before applying for a license. During that probationary period, young drivers will want to get on the road to gain experience.

Most states have a minimum amount of supervised driving in this stage. Teens or their parents will need to track those hours on the road. This time often includes nighttime driving and maybe even during inclimate weather. 

Here’s each state’s learner stage restrictions. 

StateMin. Entry AgeHolding PeriodMin. Amt. of Supervised DrivingOther regulation of note
Alabama156 months50 hrs. (none w/ driver ed.)Supervising driver can only be parent, guardian or driving instructor.
Alaska146 month40 hrs., including 10 at night or in inclement weather
Arizona15.56 month30 hrs. including 10 at night (none w/ driver ed.)
Arkansas146 monthsNoneFourteen-year-olds can drive with a permit after they pass a written test. Unsupervised driving not allowed if the driver has an instruction permit or a learner’s permit.
California15.56 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Colorado1512 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightFifteen-year-olds enrolled in a driver’s ed class can apply for an instruction permit. Supervising drivers must be a parent, stepparent, grandparent, guardian or driving instructor.
Connecticut166 months (4 months with driver ed)40 hrs.
District of Colombia166 months40 hrs. in learner’s stage; 10 hrs. at night in intermediate stageLearner’s permit required for all applicants regardless of age. Drivers in the learner’s stage aren’t allowed to drive between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Delaware166 month50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Florida1512 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightDrivers with a learner’s permit can’t drive between sunset and sunrise for the first three months.
Georgia1512 months40 hrs. including 6 at night
Hawaii15.56 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Idaho14.56 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightThe state has three learner’s permit levels -- driver training for drivers 14 ½; supervised instruction with a nonprofessional supervisor; and an instruction permit for people who are 17 who completed driver education and supervised driving or drivers who are 17 and older without driver education or supervised driving.
Illinois159 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightDriver education allowed for 15-year-old permit applicants. Permit applicants without driver education allowed at 17 years, three months.
Indiana156 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightPermit applicants must be at least 15 years old and completed a driver education course. All 16-year-olds can apply for a permit.
Iowa1412 months20 hrs. including 2 hrs. at night
Kansas1412 months50 hrs. for learner phase,including 10 hrs. at nightDrivers who are 15 can drive without supervision to and from work or school. Fifteen-year-old drivers can get a restricted license if they complete driver education.
Kentucky166 months60 hrs. including 10 at night
Louisiana156 months50 hrs. including 15 hours at nightDriver education required for a permit for people under 17 years old.
Maine156 months70 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightDriver education required for a permit if the person is under 18 years old. Permit holding period apply for applicants under 21.
Maryland15 yrs., 9 mos.9 months60 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Massachusetts166 months40 hrs. with 30 hrs. advanced driver training
Michigan14 yrs., 9 mos.6 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightPermit applicants under 18 must complete the first segment of driver education.
Minnesota156 months50 hrs. including 15 hrs. at night, or 40 hrs. with 15 hrs at night if parent completes 90-minute coursePermit applicants under 18 must take driver education. The permit stage is for all drivers over 18 unless they complete driver education.
Mississippi1512 monthsNone
Missouri156 months40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Montana14.56 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightEnrollment in driver education is required for permit applicants under 15.
Nebraska156 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night (none with driver’s ed)Drivers who are 14 years old and live at least 1.5 miles from a school and live outside of a metro area can get a learner’s permit or limited license. Limited license allows the teen to drive while supervised.
Nevada15.56 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
New Hampshire15.5None40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightNo learner’s permits. At 15 ½, a person can drive while supervised by a licensed driver who’s at least 25.
New Jersey166 monthsNone
New Mexico156 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightPermit applicants under 18 must take driver education.
New York166 months50 hrs. including 15 hrs. at night
North Carolina1512 months60 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightDriver education is required for permit applicants under 18.
North Dakota14Under 16: 12 months; 16: 6 months or until age 18, whichever comes firstunder 16: 50 hours;
16 and over: none
Ohio15.56 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Oklahoma15.56 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightFifteen-year-olds in Oklahoma can drive if supervised by an instructor.
Oregon156 months50 hrs.; 100 hrs. w/o driver’s ed.
Pennsylvania166 months65 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night and 5 of which must be in inclement weather
Rhone Island166 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightDriver education is required for permit applicants under 18.
South Carolina156 months40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
South Dakota146 months; 3 months w/ driver edNone
Tennessee156 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Texas156 months30 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightTeens between 15 and 17 must pass the classroom portion of a driver education course to get a permit.
Utah156 months40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightPermit holders under 18 can only driver with supervisor of a driving instructor, parent, guardian or a responsible adult who accepts liability for the driver by signing the permit application. Permit applicants must enroll in driver education. Learner stage driving can include up to five hours in a driving simulator.
Vermont1512 months40 yrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Virginia15.59 months45 hrs. including 15 hrs. at night
Washington15 with driver's ed; 15 1/2 without driver's ed6 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightPermit applicants must enroll in driver education. People 15 ½ can apply for a permit and not enroll in driver education.
West Virginia156 months50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night (none with driver's ed.)
Wisconsin15.56 months30 hrs. including 10 hrs. at nightDriver education enrollment is required for permit applicants under 18.
Wyoming1510 days50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night
Sources: Governor's Highway Safety Association and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute

 

Intermediate stage

Teen drivers will next reach the intermediate stage. These drivers have spent time on the road, but still need some work before moving to full privilege. 

Drivers in this stage can get their state driver’s license, but still need to do more work before having the same rights as older drivers. These restrictions include limited nighttime driving and passengers. 

Only Vermont doesn’t restrict nighttime driving during this stage. Plus, 46 states and the District of Columbia restrict passengers, according to the GHSA. 

Also, 38 states and the District of Columbia ban cell phone use for new drivers. 

Here’s each state’s intermediate stage restrictions. 

StateMin. AgeUnsupervised Driving ProhibitedPassenger RulesOther regulations of note
Alabama16Midnight-6 a.m.No more than 1 passenger; secondary enforcementFull license privilege at 17 and after at least six months of driving.
Alaska161 a.m.-5 a.m.No passengers younger than 21
Arizona16Midnight-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 18; secondary enforcement
Arkansas1611 p.m.-4 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 21Applicants for an intermediate license must be 16 and not have a crash or violation for six months. Drivers less than 18 can’t operate a motor vehicle with unrestrained passengers.
California1611 p.m.- 5 a.m.First six months, no passengers younger than 20 (limited exception for immediate family); secondary enforcementLicense applicants who didn’t take a driver’s ed course must wait until 18 for a license. Those drivers don’t have an intermediate license stage.
Colorado16Midnight-5 a.m.No passengers for first 6 mos.; no more than 1 passenger for 2nd 6 mos.; secondary enforcementA person who is 15 ½ can apply for an instruction permit, which allows driving while supervised by a parent, stepparent, grandparent or guardian. Sixteen-year-olds may apply for a permit, which lets them drive while supervised by a licensed driver who is 21 or older.
Connecticut16 yrs., 4 mos.11 p.m.-5 a.m.First 6 mos. no passengers except parent or driving instructor; 2nd 6 mos. no passengers except immediate family or driving instructorDriver education or home training required for applicants younger than 18. Parents must attend two hours of instruction about teen-driving laws if the applicant isn’t 18 years old yet.
District of Colombia16.5Sept.-June: 11 p.m.-6 a.m. Su-Th, Midnight-6 a.m. F-Sa; July-Aug.: Midnight-6 a.m.First six months, no passengers; after that, no more than two passengers under 18Applicants younger than 21 must go through the intermediate stage until they’ve achieved full status or turn 21.
Delaware16.510 p.m.-6 a.m.No more than 1 passengerEveryone in a driver under 18 must have a seatbelt on. If not, the teen faces a two-month suspension. Driver education required for any applicant under 18.
Florida1611 p.m.-6 a.m.(age 16); 1 a.m.-5 a.m. (age 17)None
Georgia16Midnight-5 a.m.; secondary enforcementFirst 6 mos. no passengers; 2nd 6 mos. no more than 1 younger than age 21; thereafter no more than 3 passengers; secondary enforcementLicense applicants younger than 17 must complete driver education.
Hawaii1611 p.m.-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 18 except household membersLicense applicants younger than 18 must complete driver education.
Idaho15Sunset to sunriseLicensees 16 and younger can have no more than 1 passenger younger than 17License applicants younger than 17 must complete driver education.
Illinois1610 p.m.-6 a.m. Su-Th, 11 p.m.-6 a.m. F-SaFirst yr. no more than 1 passenger younger than 20License applicants older than 17 don’t need to take driver education or the intermediate stage.
Indiana16 yrs., 3 mos.First 180 days, 10 p.m.-5 a.m.; thereafter, 11 p.m.-5 a.m. Sun.–Fri.; 1 a.m.-5 a.m. Sat.–Sun.No passengersThe minimum age for an intermediate license is 16 ½ with drivers education and 16 years, nine months, without that education.
Iowa1612:30 a.m.-5 a.m.First six months, not more than one passenger under 18; parents may waive that requirement.Driver education required for an intermediate license and for unrestricted license if the person is under 18. Full driving privilege occurs at 17 and after at least one year of driving. Ten supervised hours with two hours at night in the intermediate stage.
Kansas169 p.m.-5 a.m. for first six monthsNo more than 1 non-sibling for first six months.
Kentucky16.5Midnight-6 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 20 except with driving instructorLicense applicants who are 18 must complete a driver education course.
Louisiana1611 p.m.-5 a.m.No more than one passenger younger than 21 between the hours of 6 pm-5 am; no passenger restriction from 5 am-6 pmDriver education required for a intermediate license for people under 17 years old. Drivers who are 17 and older must complete an education program, but doesn’t require behind-the-wheel experience.
Maine16Midnight-5 a.m.First nine months, no passengersDriver education required for license if the person is under 18 years old.
Maryland16.5Midnight-5 a.m.No passengers younger than 18 for first five months; secondary enforcement
Massachusetts16.512:30 a.m.-5 a.m. (between 12:30 a.m.-1 a.m. and 4 a.m.-5 a.m. the night driving and passenger restrictions are subject to secondary enforcement; enforcement is primary at all other times)First six months, no passengers younger than 18 (between 12:30 am–1 am and 4 am–5 am the night driving and passenger restrictions are secondarily enforced; enforcement is primary at all other times)Driver education required for license applicants under 18 years old.
Michigan1610 p.m.-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 21
License applicants under 18 must complete the second segment of driver education.
Minnesota16Midnight-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 20; 2nd 6 months no more than 3 passengers younger than 20
Mississippi1610 p.m.-6 a.m. Su-Thu; 11:30 p.m.-6 a.m. Fri-Sat.NoneLicense applicants 17 and older don’t have to go through 12-month learner’s permit holding period. License applicants 17 and older skip the intermediate license phase.
Missouri161 a.m.-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 19 for first 6 mos.; no more than 3 passengers younger than 19 thereafter
Montana1511 p.m.-5 a.m.First 6 mos. no more than 1 passenger younger than 18; second 6 mos. no more than 3 passengers younger than 18License applicants under 16 must complete driver education.
Nebraska16Midnight-6 a.m.; secondary enforcementFirst 6 mos. no more than 1 passenger younger than 19; secondary enforcement
Nevada1610 p.m.-5 a.m.; secondary enforcementFirst 6 mos. no passengers younger than 18; secondary endorsementDriver education is required for all license applicants under 18 unless there’s no driver education classes offered within a 30-mile radius of the person’s house.
New Hampshire161 a.m.-4 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 25
New Jersey1711 p.m.-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger except dependentsNight driving and passenger restrictions waived for new drivers who are at least 21.
New Mexico15.5Midnight-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 21License applicants under 18 must complete driver education.
New York16.59 p.m.-5 a.m. unsupervised driving prohibited at all times in NYC; limited daytime unsupervised driving allowed on Long IslandNo more than 1 passenger younger than 21
North Carolina169 p.m.-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 21; if a family member younger than 21 is already a passenger then no other passengers younger than 21 who are not family membersDriver education is required for license applicants under 18.
North Dakota16; 15 for a parent- requested restricted licenseSunset or 9 p.m. (whichever is earlier) to 5 a.m.No passenger restrictions
Ohio16age 16: midnight-6 a.m.; age 17: 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.; secondary enforcementNo more than one passenger unless supervisedDriver education is required for license applicants under 18.
Oklahoma1610 p.m.-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger
Oregon16Midnight-5 a.m.First 6 mos. no passengers younger than 18Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.
Pennsylvania16.511 p.m.-5 a.m.First 6 months, no more than 1 passenger younger than 18; thereafter, no more than 3 passengers
Rhone Island16.51 a.m.-5 a.m.First 12 mos. no more than 1 passenger younger than 21Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.
South Carolina15.56 p.m.-6 a.m. EST; 8 p.m.-6 a.m. EDTNo more than 2 passengers under 21 except when driving to and from school
South Dakota14.5 yrs.; 14 yrs., 3 mos. w/ driver ed.10 p.m.-6 a.m.None
Tennessee1611 p.m.-6 a.m.No more than 1 passenger
Texas16Midnight-5 a.m.; secondary enforcementNo more than 1 passenger under 21; secondary enforcementThe minimum license is 18 for applicants who don’t complete driver education.
Utah16Midnight-5 a.m.for first six months, no passengers; secondary enforcementAll license applicants must complete driver education. Passenger restrictions end after six months or when the driver turns 18, whichever comes first.
Vermont16NoneFirst 3 mos. No passengers; second 3 mos. no passengers except family; secondary enforcementDriver education is required for license applicants under 18.
Virginia16 yrs., 3 mos.Midnight-4 a.m.; secondary enforcementLearner's permit: no more than one passenger under 21; provisional license and under 18: no more than one passenger under 21; secondary enforcementDriver education is required for license applicants under 19.
Washington161 a.m.-5 a.m.; secondary enforcementFirst 6 mos. No passengers younger than 20; 2nd 6 mos. No more than 3 passengers younger than 20; secondary enforcementDriver education is required for license applicants under 18. Intermediate license holders aren’t eligible for a full license until 18 with a crash or violation history.
West Virginia1610 p.m.-5 a.m.No passengers younger than 20 for first 6 mos. No more than 1 passenger younger than 20 for second 6 mos.
Wisconsin16Midnight-5 a.m.No more than 1 passengerDriver education is required for license applicants under 18.
Wyoming1611 p.m.-5 a.m.No more than 1 passenger younger than 18Applicants for full license who are under 17 must complete driver education and have an intermediate license for at least six months.
Sources: Governor's Highway Safety Association and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute

 

Full privilege

Once young drivers have gained experience, they can reach full privilege. This time is when teen drivers can have anyone in the car and can drive at all time. 

New Jersey doesn’t allow for full privileges until 21. Until then, drivers have a decade on their vehicle noting their driving status. 

Here’s when each state allows full privilege: 

StateFull privilege minimum age
Alabama17 years
Alaska16 years, six months
Arizona16 years, six month
Arkansas18 years
California17 years
Colorado17 years
Connecticut17 years, four months driving with passengers; 18 years for nighttime driving
Delaware17 years
District of Columbia18 years
Delaware17 years
Florida18 years
Georgia18 years
Hawaii17 years
Idaho15 years, six months, driving with passengers; 16 years, nighttime driving
Illinois17 years, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving
Indiana17 years with drivers ed, driving with passengers; 17 years, three months, without drivers ed; 18 years, nighttime driving
Iowa17 years
Kansas16 years, six months
Kentucky17 years
Louisiana17 years
Maine16 years, nine months
Maryland16 years, 11 months, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving
Massachusetts17 years, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving
Michigan17 years
Minnesota16 years, six months, nighttime driving; 17 years, driving with passengers
Mississippi16 years, six months
Missouri18 years
Montana16 years
Nebraska16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 17 years, nighttime driving
Nevada16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving
New Hampshire16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 17 years, one month, nighttime driving
New Jersey21 years
New Mexico16 years, six months
New York17 years with drivers ed; 18 years without drivers ed
North Carolina16 years, six months
North Dakota16 years
Ohio17 years, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving
Oklahoma16 years, six months with drivers ed; 17 years without drivers ed
Oregon17 years
Pennsylvania17 years with drivers ed and 12 months free of crash or conviction; 18 years without drivers ed
Rhode Island17 years, six months
South Carolina16 years, six months
South Dakota16 years
Tennessee17 years
Texas18 years
Utah16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 17 years, nighttime driving
Vermont16 years, six months
Virginia18 years
Washington18 years
West Virginia17 years
Wisconsin16 years, nine months
Wyoming16 years, six months
 

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