Drivers License Laws by State

The day that young drivers finish their driver’s education and exchange their learner’s permit for their driver’s license is a momentous one especially for teen drivers.

Leaving behind supervised driving and getting an unrestricted license can usher in a tremendous sense of freedom for someone of any driving age.

However, a driver’s license can also bring a licensed driver into danger if they are not careful.

Teen drivers that just got a valid driver’s license need to understand the rules of the road to stay safe and compliant including any passenger restrictions, learner’s permit, driver’s education, supervised driving, and restricted license rules per their driving age and skill.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers represents victims and their families after motor vehicle accidents including those with cars, trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrians.

We see that a lot of these incidents center on lack of knowledge regarding the driver’s license and related concerns of supervised driving age, how to get a valid driver’s license, passenger restrictions during driver’s education, and more.

Review the following sections to understand your driver’s license more-both the opportunity and responsibility.

Why Do States Have Driver’s License Restrictions and Supervised Driving?

Most new drivers of motor vehicles or anyone trying to get their driver’s license for the first time do not have a lot of experience driving especially unsupervised driving, especially those under age 18.

This increases their chances of significant injury from an automobile accident.

In fact, teenagers actually get into car crashes with motor vehicles at a rate far greater than drivers of older ages.

To address this reality, most states have utilized a graduated driver’s license program that requires license applicants to complete driver’s education course and abide by a phased approach.

In these graduated license programs and graduated licensing laws, drivers get a valid license (regular driver license) with full driving privileges and an unrestricted driver’s license in the third and final phase:

  • Beginner Stage: License applicants here must abide by driver licensing limitations especially with regards to nighttime driving, highway safety, having more than one passenger at once (passenger restrictions), completing a driver education course and driver training with family members or supervised driving, applying for an instruction permit, and other rules in order to get a valid license. This period can last between one and several years. The main goal here is to practice driving (driver training course) before you get a full license. There may also be non resident age requirements.
  • Intermediate Stage: In the intermediate stage, you may get a learner’s permit, intermediate provisional driver’s license, intermediate license, or some other advanced permit. Again, this is a restricted license (intermediate license) and complete unsupervised driving is banned but some of the earlier restrictions will expire. Talk to your driver licensing office about what type of instruction permit and supervising driver duties as well as continuing driver education course obligations you have here for the intermediate license.
  • Full Privileges: In this stage, permit holders and license applicants finally get a full provisional license. A full license allows licensed drivers (once just license applicants) to have more than one passenger and drive the roads without restriction or supervision.

New drivers or newly licensed drivers with a new license (including teen driver and their licensed parent, minor passengers, immediate family members, or another family member) or temporary license under these graduated license programs have to practice driving and and learn about adult and teen driving laws.

Harm and Damage that New Drivers Cause

Take a look a this important information regarding new drivers and the accidents they cause and/or are involved in:

  • Almost half of all first-year drivers are in crashes.
  • Almost one-third of all second-year drivers are in crashes.
  • 16 -year-olds are much likelier to get into accidents than 18 or 19-year-olds.
  • Male teenage drivers are far likely to get into fatal auto collisions than female teenage drivers.
  • Early morning, nighttime, and weekend driving is the most dangerous for young drivers.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt, drinking, speeding, and distraction are the most important risk factors for motor vehicle incidents and new drivers.

If you think the driving age to get a driver license should be lowered or supervised driving and other driver’s license obligations are too stringent, remember these facts and figures.

Supervised driving, a restricted license or learner’s permit or provisional license, driving test, passenger restriction, and other measures are all designed to reduce this damage and make the roads safer as newly minted drivers enter them.

Drivers License Laws by State

State Beginner Stage Intermediate Stage Full Privileges
Alabama 15 16 17
Alaska 14 16 16.5
Arizona 15.5 16 16.5
Arkansas 14 16 18
California 15.5 16 18
Colorado 15 16 17
Connecticut 16 16 years, 4 months 18
Delaware 16 16.5 17
District of Columbia 16 16.5 18
Florida 15 16 18
Georgia 15 16 18
Hawaii 15.5 16 17
Idaho 14.5 15 17
Illinois 15 16 18
Indiana 15 16 years, 3 months 21
Iowa 14 16 17
Kansas 14 16 16.5
Kentucky 16 16.5 17
Louisiana 15 16 17
Maine 15 16 16 year, 9 months
Maryland 15 16.5 18
Massachusetts 16 16.5 18
Michigan 14 16 17
Minnesota 15 16 18
Mississippi 15 16 16.5
Missouri 15 16 18
Montana 14 15 16
Nebraska 15 16 17
Nevada 15.5 16 18
New Hampshire 15.5 16 18
New Jersey 16 17 18
New Mexico 15 15.5 16.5
New York 16 16.5 17
North Carolina 15 16 16.5
North Dakota 14 16 16
Ohio 15.5 16 18
Oklahoma 15.5 16 16.5
Oregon 15 16 17
Pennsylvania 16 16.5 17
Rhode Island 16 16.5 17.5
South Carolina 15 15.5 16.5
South Dakota 14 14 years, 6 months 16
Tennessee 15 16 17
Texas 15 16 18
Utah 15 16 16.5
Vermont 15 16 16.5
Virginia 15.5 16 years, 3 months 18
Washington 15 16 18
West Virginia 15 16 17
Wisconsin 15.5 16 18
Wyoming 15 16 16.5

Our legal group can go over your own driving laws with you (or immediate family member) such as a parent requested restricted license, restricted driver’s license, supervising driver laws, driving test, if graduated licensing law applies, defensive driving course, nighttime driving restriction, traffic safety education, and the right licensed driver age (age 16 possible) for approved driver education and minor school license, as well as other topics.

Different Types of Driver’s Licenses

Many states like Illinois issue various licenses with different limitations on operating a motorized vehicle.

Drivers operating passenger vehicles, riding motorcycles, driving a commercial truck along with new motorists must obtain the correct license or permit based on their needs to remain compliant with Illinois law and traffic codes.

The following list outlines the most common forms of licenses in this state and others.

  • Class D licenses — Most Illinois drivers have a Class D license that permits the operation of any passenger vehicle, including vans and pickup trucks. Drivers must operate passenger vehicles only for private purposes such as commuting to work or for pleasure.
  • GDL licenses — The DMV issues these temporary licenses primarily to teenagers who participate in the Graduated License Program. Teenage drivers can operate a passenger vehicle only while under the supervision of a licensed driver while in possession of a permit and must pass their Driver’s Education classes before becoming eligible to apply for a license.
  • Class M licenses — These licenses are issued for operating motorcycles after licensees pass a state-mandated before class, fill in an application and pass a test for this type of license.
  • CDL — The DMV issue commercial driver licenses to professional commercial vehicle drivers.

The DMV also issues other licenses that serve different purposes. If applying for a new license, your current license cannot be suspended or revoked. The applicant cannot be declared unfit to drive by the court for any reason.

Accidents and injuries that a Newly Licensed Driver May Cause

We have spent the previous sections reviewing the risks inherent for new drivers and what states have done to curtail those dangerous situations. But accidents still happen.

It is important to understand how they do specifically so that you can avoid them yourselves but also help others stay away from them as well.

Here are a couple of common scenarios we see of accidents and new drivers.

  1. Passenger Distractions: Teens driving on roads and highways often talk to their passengers more than older drivers do. This takes their eyes and attention off the roads, where it belongs, and exposes them to emerging danger like a bike or pedestrian that darts onto the street.
  2. Route Inexperience: Since young drivers have not driven often, they frequently do not know routes they are taking very well. This inexperience opens them up to risks if there is bad weather or if other drivers are pressuring them like tailgating or through other aggressive driving maneuvers.
  3. Weather Conditions: Bad weather exacerbates a young driver’s inexperience and nervousness and can lead to accidents and damage.
  4. Fatigued Driving: New drivers are not completely equipped to manage their fatigue or other emotions as they develop on the road. They do not always pull over and get off the roads when they are tired and this causes incidents.

Licensed drivers (both unrestricted and restricted license holders, license applicants, school permit holders, etc.) can talk to us today about highway safety and road management.

Can I Bring a Claim against a Driver without a Driver’s License?

Yes, you can still sue people that cause motor vehicle accidents regardless of whether or not they have a driver’s license.

Your case against them will largely be the same and the lack of driver’s license might even help you prove that they were acting irresponsibly at the time of the crash.

Can My Driver’s License Be Suspended or Revoked?

Yes, all states have rules in place for the possible suspension or revocation of your license. Normally, these are put in place for circumstances involving misconduct, old age, or incapacitation.

Talk to an experienced auto collision and driver’s license attorney if you are ever in one of these situations.

They can work with you to get out of supervised driving and back on to the roads in a free and full manner.

Talk to Our Auto Accident Lawyers about Your Crash and Driver License Today

If you are involved in an auto accident caused by a driver without a license, you might still be entitled to insurance benefits.

Our experienced auto accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help you obtain compensation and can further investigate your case.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can discuss what happened and see what options for relief and financial compensation there are. We do not cost a dime unless we win for you in court or settlement.

More Resources for Driver’s License Rules