Getting Behind the Wheel: Important Info for Teen Drivers

By: Staff Writer June 4, 2012
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As a teen driver, this may strike you as incomprehensible, but looking cool should not be your lone priority before getting behind the wheel of a car. There are more important things to focus on, like keeping your learners permit or drivers license.

This requires familiarizing yourself with your state's driving rules for teen drivers.

TIP: Most drivers ed and driver training classes cover these restrictions, and periodically taking a DMV practice test can help refresh your memory.

Drivers Permit Restrictions

Most states require teens to follow some or all of the following driving restrictions while holding a drivers permit:

  • Always be accompanied by a licensed driver. Most states will require the driver to be at least 21 years old (some states push it to 25) and sitting in the front passenger seat.
  • Only drive during a designated time period. For instance, some states don't allow permit holders to drive between dusk and dawn.
  • You and your passengers must wear seat belts.

Intermediate Drivers License Restrictions

Your state might have a different name for this first-time license for teen drivers. Massachusetts, for example, refers to it as a Junior Operators License (JOL), while North Carolina labels it a Limited Provisional License.

Regardless of its exact name, you need to be aware of its restrictions. Again, depending on your state, you may face some or all of the following rules:

  • No driving during curfew hours. The exact times will vary, but always occur at night. Some states will lift this restriction for work or school, provided you're carrying proper proof (i.e. a note from your employer or school).
  • Adhere to passenger restrictions. Some states will limit you to one or two non-family passengers. North Carolina takes it one step further by requiring the one passenger to be 21 or older.
  • You and your passengers must wear seat belts.

A Note On Texting and Cell Phones

Most states ban texting and cell phone use for all teen drivers (and some states ban them for all drivers, regardless of age or license type). Be sure you know your state's specific rules on mobile devices so you can stay safe and avoid getting a traffic ticket.


Violate a restriction and you could face license suspension - or even revocation, until you reach a certain age.

Some states add points to driving records, and these can carry long-term consequences.

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