Teen drivers in Maine get some breaks and some tough requirements at the same time. You can get a learner's permit as young as 15, as long as you've completed an approved driver's education course. On the other hand, Maine is one of the states that employs a graduated licensing system that restricts some privileges for drivers under 18.
Furthermore, new licenses for all drivers under 21 are provisional. This means the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) can suspend your license immediately if you get a traffic ticket.
How to Apply for a Teen License
The basic process is the same as for an adult wishing to apply for a Maine driver's license. You need to fill out an application form, take a written exam, and take an eye exam to obtain an instruction permit. Then, after practicing with your permit, you must pass a road test.
Here's what's different about teen licenses in Maine:
- You can get a permit as young as 15, but you must have completed an approved driver's education course in order to apply for the written permit exam. If you're 18 or over, you do not need to have completed the course to get a permit or license.
- You can get a license at 16 if you have passed the approved driver's education course. Again, the course is not required for anyone over 18.
- If you're under 21, you can't apply for a road test unless you've held a permit for at least six months and have completed a minimum of 35 hours of driving. A parent, stepparent, guardian, or spouse must accompany you while driving. They must also certify the 35 hours on a Maine BMV driving log form that you turn in with your road test request.
Once a teen receives a Maine driver's license, there are some restrictions they must adhere to until they get older. Under the state's graduated licensing system, the following rules apply:
- For the first 180 days of licensed driving, anyone under 18 cannot carry passengers other than immediate family members unless they are accompanied by a licensed driver who has held a license for at least two consecutive years and is sitting next to the driver.
- Drivers 18 and younger may not drive between the hours of 12 midnight and 5 a.m.
- It is illegal for drivers younger than 18 to drive while using a cell phone.
- Anyone under 21 is under provisional status as a licensed driver for their first two years of driving. This means that they can have their license suspended for 30 days without a hearing if they're convicted of a moving violation. Second and third violations incur more severe penalties.
Parent-Teen Driver Contract
Relations between teens and parents aren't always smooth or easy, especially when driving enters the picture. Although it is not a licensing requirement, the Maine BMV suggests that teens and parents sign a contract in which the teen promises to live up to certain driving responsibilities.
Teen Driver Tips
The Maine BMV has the following tips for teen drivers and their parents:
- Drive sober. If you're under 21 and caught driving with any amount of alcohol or drugs in your system, you'll lose your license for at least a year.
Wear your seat belt. By law, everyone in the car must wear a seat belt.
Focus on your driving. Pay attention to the road, don't let anything in your car distract you, and keep the music low enough so you can hear emergency vehicles and other traffic.
Drive defensively. You must share the road with other drivers, which means you should be polite, signal your intentions, be predictable, let other motorists merge, yield when required, and don't speed.
- Talk to your new driver. The parent-teen contract is a good opener to talk to your teen about being a responsible driver. Let them know that this big step toward adulthood comes with a little bit of restraint and work on their end.
Be sure your vehicle is safe to drive. A teen learning how to drive safely does not need to be further distracted by bad brakes or a sticky clutch. Make sure the family car is well maintained.
Set a good example. Teach by example. You'll be more credible and your teen will trust you more if you drive responsibly.
Review insurance requirements. Explain to your teen how car insurance works―and that it is legally required. Let your teen know that they are both financially and legally responsible for what they do when they're behind the wheel.
These tips are available in their entirety
from the Maine BMV.