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 when drivers reach the intermediate stage and even when they are 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 involve three stages:
These stages are meant to restrict younger and inexperienced drivers and then allow them more driving privileges after gaining 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.
- State GDL laws put restrictions on licenses of inexperienced drivers and then allow them more freedom as they gain experience with age.
- Young drivers are required to have a learner’s permit and hold it for an appropriate amount of time before applying for their licenses.
- Drivers in intermediate stage can get their state driver’s license, but you need to do more work before gaining the same rights as a more experienced driver.
- After gaining experience, young drivers can enjoy full driving privileges. They can drive at any time, and they can have anyone in the car.
The learner stage is where you’ll find novice drivers. This stage has the strictest restrictions and includes drivers ed for teens.
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 bad weather.
Here are each state’s learner stage restrictions:
|State||Min. Entry Age||Holding Period||Min. Amt. of Supervised Driving||Other regulation of note|
|Alabama||15||6 months||50 hrs. (none w/ driver ed.)||Supervising driver can only be parent, guardian or driving instructor.|
|Alaska||14||6 month||40 hrs., including 10 at night or in inclement weather|
|Arizona||15.5||6 month||30 hrs. including 10 at night (none w/ driver ed.)|
|Arkansas||14||6 months||None||Fourteen-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.|
|California||15.5||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Colorado||15||12 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Fifteen-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.|
|Connecticut||16||6 months (4 months with driver ed)||40 hrs.|
|District of Colombia||16||6 months||40 hrs. in learner’s stage; 10 hrs. at night in intermediate stage||Learner’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.|
|Delaware||16||6 month||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Florida||15||12 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Drivers with a learner’s permit can’t drive between sunset and sunrise for the first three months.|
|Georgia||15||12 months||40 hrs. including 6 at night|
|Hawaii||15.5||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Idaho||14.5||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||The 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.|
|Illinois||15||9 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Driver education allowed for 15-year-old permit applicants. Permit applicants without driver education allowed at 17 years, three months.|
|Indiana||15||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Permit applicants must be at least 15 years old and completed a driver education course. All 16-year-olds can apply for a permit.|
|Iowa||14||12 months||20 hrs. including 2 hrs. at night|
|Kansas||14||12 months||50 hrs. for learner phase,including 10 hrs. at night||Drivers 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.|
|Kentucky||16||6 months||60 hrs. including 10 at night|
|Louisiana||15||6 months||50 hrs. including 15 hours at night||Driver education required for a permit for people under 17 years old.|
|Maine||15||6 months||70 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Driver education required for a permit if the person is under 18 years old. Permit holding period apply for applicants under 21.|
|Maryland||15 yrs., 9 mos.||9 months||60 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Massachusetts||16||6 months||40 hrs. with 30 hrs. advanced driver training|
|Michigan||14 yrs., 9 mos.||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Permit applicants under 18 must complete the first segment of driver education.|
|Minnesota||15||6 months||50 hrs. including 15 hrs. at night, or 40 hrs. with 15 hrs at night if parent completes 90-minute course||Permit applicants under 18 must take driver education. The permit stage is for all drivers over 18 unless they complete driver education.|
|Missouri||15||6 months||40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Montana||14.5||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Enrollment in driver education is required for permit applicants under 15.|
|Nebraska||15||6 months||50 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.|
|Nevada||15.5||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|New Hampshire||15.5||None||40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||No learner’s permits. At 15 ½, a person can drive while supervised by a licensed driver who’s at least 25.|
|New Jersey||16||6 months||None|
|New Mexico||15||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Permit applicants under 18 must take driver education.|
|New York||16||6 months||50 hrs. including 15 hrs. at night|
|North Carolina||15||12 months||60 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Driver education is required for permit applicants under 18.|
|North Dakota||14||Under 16: 12 months; 16: 6 months or until age 18, whichever comes first||under 16: 50 hours; 16 and over: none|
|Ohio||15.5||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Oklahoma||15.5||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Fifteen-year-olds in Oklahoma can drive if supervised by an instructor.|
|Oregon||15||6 months||50 hrs.; 100 hrs. w/o driver’s ed.|
|Pennsylvania||16||6 months||65 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night and 5 of which must be in inclement weather|
|Rhone Island||16||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Driver education is required for permit applicants under 18.|
|South Carolina||15||6 months||40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|South Dakota||14||6 months; 3 months w/ driver ed||None|
|Tennessee||15||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Texas||15||6 months||30 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Teens between 15 and 17 must pass the classroom portion of a driver education course to get a permit.|
|Utah||15||6 months||40 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Permit 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.|
|Vermont||15||12 months||40 yrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
|Virginia||15.5||9 months||45 hrs. including 15 hrs. at night|
|Washington||15 with driver’s ed; 15 1/2 without driver’s ed||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Permit applicants must enroll in driver education. People 15 ½ can apply for a permit and not enroll in driver education.|
|West Virginia||15||6 months||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night (none with driver’s ed.)|
|Wisconsin||15.5||6 months||30 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night||Driver education enrollment is required for permit applicants under 18.|
|Wyoming||15||10 days||50 hrs. including 10 hrs. at night|
Sources: Governor’s Highway Safety Association and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute
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 need to do more work before having the same rights as more experienced 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.
|State||Min. Age||Unsupervised Driving Prohibited||Passenger Rules||Other regulations of note|
|Alabama||16||Midnight-6 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger; secondary enforcement||Full license privilege at 17 and after at least six months of driving.|
|Alaska||16||1 a.m.-5 a.m.||No passengers younger than 21|
|Arizona||16||Midnight-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 18; secondary enforcement|
|Arkansas||16||11 p.m.-4 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 21||Applicants 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.|
|California||16||11 p.m.- 5 a.m.||First six months, no passengers younger than 20 (limited exception for immediate family); secondary enforcement||License 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.|
|Colorado||16||Midnight-5 a.m.||No passengers for first 6 mos.; no more than 1 passenger for 2nd 6 mos.; secondary enforcement||A 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.|
|Connecticut||16 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 instructor||Driver 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 Colombia||16.5||Sept.-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 18||Applicants younger than 21 must go through the intermediate stage until they’ve achieved full status or turn 21.|
|Delaware||16.5||10 p.m.-6 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger||Everyone 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.|
|Florida||16||11 p.m.-6 a.m.(age 16); 1 a.m.-5 a.m. (age 17)||None|
|Georgia||16||Midnight-5 a.m.; secondary enforcement||First 6 mos. no passengers; 2nd 6 mos. no more than 1 younger than age 21; thereafter no more than 3 passengers; secondary enforcement||License applicants younger than 17 must complete driver education.|
|Hawaii||16||11 p.m.-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 18 except household members||License applicants younger than 18 must complete driver education.|
|Idaho||15||Sunset to sunrise||Licensees 16 and younger can have no more than 1 passenger younger than 17||License applicants younger than 17 must complete driver education.|
|Illinois||16||10 p.m.-6 a.m. Su-Th, 11 p.m.-6 a.m. F-Sa||First yr. no more than 1 passenger younger than 20||License applicants older than 17 don’t need to take driver education or the intermediate stage.|
|Indiana||16 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 passengers||The minimum age for an intermediate license is 16 ½ with drivers education and 16 years, nine months, without that education.|
|Iowa||16||12:30 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.|
|Kansas||16||9 p.m.-5 a.m. for first six months||No more than 1 non-sibling for first six months.|
|Kentucky||16.5||Midnight-6 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 20 except with driving instructor||License applicants who are 18 must complete a driver education course.|
|Louisiana||16||11 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 pm||Driver 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.|
|Maine||16||Midnight-5 a.m.||First nine months, no passengers||Driver education required for license if the person is under 18 years old.|
|Maryland||16.5||Midnight-5 a.m.||No passengers younger than 18 for first five months; secondary enforcement|
|Massachusetts||16.5||12:30 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.|
|Michigan||16||10 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.|
|Minnesota||16||Midnight-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 20; 2nd 6 months no more than 3 passengers younger than 20|
|Mississippi||16||10 p.m.-6 a.m. Su-Thu; 11:30 p.m.-6 a.m. Fri-Sat.||None||License 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.|
|Missouri||16||1 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|
|Montana||15||11 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 18||License applicants under 16 must complete driver education.|
|Nebraska||16||Midnight-6 a.m.; secondary enforcement||First 6 mos. no more than 1 passenger younger than 19; secondary enforcement|
|Nevada||16||10 p.m.-5 a.m.; secondary enforcement||First 6 mos. no passengers younger than 18; secondary endorsement||Driver 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 Hampshire||16||1 a.m.-4 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 25|
|New Jersey||17||11 p.m.-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger except dependents||Night driving and passenger restrictions waived for new drivers who are at least 21.|
|New Mexico||15.5||Midnight-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 21||License applicants under 18 must complete driver education.|
|New York||16.5||9 p.m.-5 a.m. unsupervised driving prohibited at all times in NYC; limited daytime unsupervised driving allowed on Long Island||No more than 1 passenger younger than 21|
|North Carolina||16||9 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 members||Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.|
|North Dakota||16; 15 for a parent- requested restricted license||Sunset or 9 p.m. (whichever is earlier) to 5 a.m.||No passenger restrictions|
|Ohio||16||age 16: midnight-6 a.m.; age 17: 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.; secondary enforcement||No more than one passenger unless supervised||Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.|
|Oklahoma||16||10 p.m.-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger|
|Oregon||16||Midnight-5 a.m.||First 6 mos. no passengers younger than 18||Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.|
|Pennsylvania||16.5||11 p.m.-5 a.m.||First 6 months, no more than 1 passenger younger than 18; thereafter, no more than 3 passengers|
|Rhone Island||16.5||1 a.m.-5 a.m.||First 12 mos. no more than 1 passenger younger than 21||Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.|
|South Carolina||15.5||6 p.m.-6 a.m. EST; 8 p.m.-6 a.m. EDT||No more than 2 passengers under 21 except when driving to and from school|
|South Dakota||14.5 yrs.; 14 yrs., 3 mos. w/ driver ed.||10 p.m.-6 a.m.||None|
|Tennessee||16||11 p.m.-6 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger|
|Texas||16||Midnight-5 a.m.; secondary enforcement||No more than 1 passenger under 21; secondary enforcement||The minimum license is 18 for applicants who don’t complete driver education.|
|Utah||16||Midnight-5 a.m.||for first six months, no passengers; secondary enforcement||All license applicants must complete driver education. Passenger restrictions end after six months or when the driver turns 18, whichever comes first.|
|Vermont||16||None||First 3 mos. No passengers; second 3 mos. no passengers except family; secondary enforcement||Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.|
|Virginia||16 yrs., 3 mos.||Midnight-4 a.m.; secondary enforcement||Learner’s permit: no more than one passenger under 21; provisional license and under 18: no more than one passenger under 21; secondary enforcement||Driver education is required for license applicants under 19.|
|Washington||16||1 a.m.-5 a.m.; secondary enforcement||First 6 mos. No passengers younger than 20; 2nd 6 mos. No more than 3 passengers younger than 20; secondary enforcement||Driver 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 Virginia||16||10 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.|
|Wisconsin||16||Midnight-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger||Driver education is required for license applicants under 18.|
|Wyoming||16||11 p.m.-5 a.m.||No more than 1 passenger younger than 18||Applicants 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
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 times.
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:
|State||Full privilege minimum age|
|Alaska||16 years, six months|
|Arizona||16 years, six month|
|Connecticut||17 years, four months driving with passengers; 18 years for nighttime driving|
|District of Columbia||18 years|
|Idaho||15 years, six months, driving with passengers; 16 years, nighttime driving|
|Illinois||17 years, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving|
|Indiana||17 years with drivers ed, driving with passengers; 17 years, three months, without drivers ed; 18 years, nighttime driving|
|Kansas||16 years, six months|
|Maine||16 years, nine months|
|Maryland||16 years, 11 months, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving|
|Massachusetts||17 years, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving|
|Minnesota||16 years, six months, nighttime driving; 17 years, driving with passengers|
|Mississippi||16 years, six months|
|Nebraska||16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 17 years, nighttime driving|
|Nevada||16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving|
|New Hampshire||16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 17 years, one month, nighttime driving|
|New Jersey||21 years|
|New Mexico||16 years, six months|
|New York||17 years with drivers ed; 18 years without drivers ed|
|North Carolina||16 years, six months|
|North Dakota||16 years|
|Ohio||17 years, driving with passengers; 18 years, nighttime driving|
|Oklahoma||16 years, six months with drivers ed; 17 years without drivers ed|
|Pennsylvania||17 years with drivers ed and 12 months free of crash or conviction; 18 years without drivers ed|
|Rhode Island||17 years, six months|
|South Carolina||16 years, six months|
|South Dakota||16 years|
|Utah||16 years, six months, driving with passengers; 17 years, nighttime driving|
|Vermont||16 years, six months|
|West Virginia||17 years|
|Wisconsin||16 years, nine months|
16 years, six months
Frequently asked questions on teen driving
Is drivers ed for teens required?
Every state has its own rules on whether drivers ed is required for new drivers. Drivers ed is required in 40 out of 50 states.
Are there any 17 year old driving restrictions?
Yes. Many states have Graduated Driver License (GDL) laws that restrict where and when a 17-year-old can drive. These laws typically require a new driver’s drive time be limited to daytime hours, a passenger over a certain age to be present in the vehicle, passengers under a certain age not be present in the vehicle, no cell phone use and limited to and from trips to work and school.
What are the safest cars for teen drivers?
Safety is a major factor for all drivers, but especially for teen drivers. Look for vehicles earning a top rating from the IIHS and vehicles that come with electronic stability control (ESC). Some of the safest options for teen drivers are the 2016 Toyota Camry LE, 2016 Honda Civic LX, 2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i, 2017 Hyundai Tucson SE and the 2015 Chevy Traverse LT.
What is the best insurance for teen drivers?
Adding your teen to your policy is almost always more cost effective than getting the teen their own policy. Speak with your insurance agent to find out what it will cost to add your teen, but also be sure to shop around to find the best insurance option for your teen driver.