Since July 1998, all teens under age 18 wanting to get a driver permit and license in California must participate in the Graduated Driver Licensing process.
Other states also have graduated driver licensing programs:
|•||Nevada's Graduated Driver License|
|•||Utah's Graduated Driver License|
What is graduated driver licensing?
Graduated driver licensing eases beginning drivers into traffic by limiting their exposure to driving situations proven to be particularly dangerous. Teens begin driving with certain conditions, which are gradually relaxed as drivers mature and develop greater driving skills.
Why do we need graduated driver licensing?
After five years, a report issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles found that the licensing system contributed to a 5.3 percent reduction in the rate of crashes involving drivers age 15-17.
Still, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States. During 2003 in California alone, nearly 810 teen drivers and their passengers were killed.
The Solution: A New Licensing System
California's graduated driver licensing system deals with the biggest problems facing teen drivers.
Because teens are so highly over-represented in traffic crashes, the law requires young drivers to spend more time behind the wheel to gain the experience needed for safe driving. Teens must hold an instruction permit for six months before applying for a provisional license. During this time, they must log 50 hours of adult-supervised driving practice.
Because night driving poses a greater risk for teens, the instruction permit period requires 10 of the 50 hours of practice to occur during darkness. The law also restricts late-night driving during the first year of a provisional license.
Because the risk for teen passengers is greater with teen drivers, the law restricts passengers, aged 20 and under, for the first 12 months of a provisional license, until the teen gains more driving experience.
Anyone under age 18 applying for an instruction permit must progress through the following three-stage system to obtain a driver license.
Instruction (or Learner's) Permit
To obtain a permit, you must:
|•||Be at least 15½ years old, but under age 18.|
|•||Complete a DMV application form, signed by parents or guardians.|
|•||Have completed a driver education course, or be enrolled in driver education and training (not required if 17-½ or older).|
|•||Pass the DMV traffic law, road sign and vision tests.|
|•||Pay the $26 application fee.|
Once a permit is obtained, you must:
|•||Hold the instruction permit for at least six months.|
|•||Drive with a parent, guardian, spouse, or adult 25 or older, or with a licensed professional instructor. These drivers must have a valid California driver license.|
|•||Complete 50 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours at night. A parent or guardian must certify in writing that these hours have been completed.|
|•||Complete both driver education and training.|
|•||Maintain a clean driving record.|
|•||Not drink and drive. Even a 0.01 percent concentration of alcohol in your blood - less than one drink - will result in a one-year license suspension for drivers under age 21.|
|•||A person under the age of 18 is prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, even if equipped with a hands-free device, or while using a mobile service device. A mobile service device includes, but is not limited to, personal communication devices, two-way messaging devices, specialized mobile radio devices, hand held or laptop computer, or pagers.|
To obtain a provisional driver license, you must:
|•||Complete Stage 1.|
|•||Be at least 16 years old, but less than 18.|
|•||Pass a behind-the-wheel driving test.|
Once your provisional license is issued, the following conditions apply:
|•||For the first 12 months (or until you turn 18), no passengers under age 20 allowed unless a licensed driver age 25 or older is present. Exceptions made for certain needs (such as taking younger siblings to school) when reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate.|
|•||For the first 12 months (or until you turn 18), no driving permitted between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by licensed driver age 25 or older. Exceptions permitted for school, employment, family and medical needs when reasonable transportation facilities are inadequate; licensees must carry a statement from the appropriate school official, employer, doctor or parent/guardian.|
|•||A teen driver must be stopped for another violation, such as speeding or failing to wear a safety belt, before a ticket is written for violating the conditions above. Violation of passenger or nighttime driving restrictions result in either court-ordered community service or a fine.|
|•||Maintain a clean driving record. One citation or at-fault crash within 12 months results in a DMV warning. Two or more result in license restrictions and suspensions.|
|•||A person under the age of 18 is prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, even if equipped with a hands-free device, or while using a mobile service device. A mobile service device includes, but is not limited to, personal communication devices, two-way messaging devices, specialized mobile radio devices, hand held or laptop computer, pagers, etc.|
A provisional license becomes a full license when you:
|•||Become 18 years old.|
|•||Have no outstanding DMV or court-ordered restrictions, suspensions or probation.|
|•||As of July, 2008, drivers 18 years or older are prohibited from using a wireless telephone while driving unless that phone is designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking operation and is used in that manner.|
You do not need to return to the DMV to obtain your full license.
Drivers under 21 are still subject to a one-year license suspension if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.01 percent when driving.
Driving is a complex and often demanding task, even for the best drivers. More supervised practice helps young drivers become more skilled behind the wheel and gives parents greater peace of mind.
Some resources to help teens practice their driving skills include:
The DMV's Parent-Teen Training Aide handbook is available online or at your local DMV field office.
This information is being provided to help introduce California's new graduated licensing program. The Department of Motor Vehicles is the final authority on driver licensing provisions and exceptions to those provisions.
|•||California Highway Patrol|
|•||California Department of Motor Vehicles|
|•||Insurance Institute for Highway Safety|