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Licensing Process

Graduated licensing requirements, which place restrictions on novice drivers, help teens learn the necessary skills to be safe behind the wheel. This system allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time.  The effectiveness of graduated driver licensing (GDL) in reducing crashes and fatalities among drivers aged 17 and younger has been well-documented in the research community.

There are three phases in a GDL system: (1) a supervised learner’s permit; (2) an intermediate/provisional license; and (3) and a full unrestricted license. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of a GDL law for those younger than 18.

State laws often set the minimum requirements rather than the maximum.  Some states have stronger GDL laws that others. AAA recommends:

  • Passenger limits: No more than one non-family passenger under age 20 for at least the first six months of licensure;
  • Night driving limits: No driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. for at least the first six months of licensure; and
  • Mandatory practice: Requiring at least a 12-month holding period for a learner’s permit and minimum 50 hours of practice driving, with 10 hours at night.

Note to parents:  Even if your state doesn’t require the provisions outlined above, parents can set rules for your teen that are stricter than the law to ensure they have adequate training when they set out on the road. Consider using a parent-teen driving agreement to help enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

For information on your state’s GDL law, please visit: