Teen driver with mom in car

How Old Do You Have to Be to Drive?

Depending on where you live, you can learn how to drive and get your driver’s license at varying ages, but most states allow you to get a license at 16, albeit with certain provisions. Check out the lists below to see what age you can get your permit and license in your respective state. 

What is Driver’s Ed?

In order to be able to drive a car, you have to know how to drive a car. That’s where driver’s ed comes in. Driver’s ed is important because the majority of teen vehicle crashes occur due to driver inexperience. Some states require an official driver’s education course by law, but you have many options when it comes to learning how to drive. You can take an online course (in 13 states), you can take a classroom course, or you can learn from your parents or legal guardian.

Regardless of which route you take, you must log a certain number of driving hours and learn the necessary road rules. An official driver’s ed course prepares you specifically for the road test and can sometimes get you a discount on your car insurance. For information on driving schools near you, visit the Driving School Association of the Americas website. Learn more about car insurance for teens.

Learning Permit Age Per State

14 years old

Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota,

15 years old

Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana , Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

16 years old

Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,

Full Driver’s License Age Per State

A full license is different from a restricted license in that you have full range as a fully licensed driver. There are different age requirements for a restricted license, which are not outlined in this article.

16 years old

Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

17 years old

Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York (with classes), Oregon, Pennsylvania (with classes), Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, West Virginia.

18 years old

Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia.

Graduated Driver Licensing Programs

Most of the GDL programs are three stages – learner stage, intermediate stage, and full privilege stage. In the learner stage, you are required to practice driving for a certain number of hours while supervised. Some of these required hours may be at night. You must usually stay in this stage for a certain length of time and until you reach a certain age. To proceed to the intermediate stage, you must pass a driving test.

In the intermediate stage, you have a provisional driver’s license. You are able to drive unsupervised but have limitations as to the number of passengers you are allowed to carry as well as during what hours you can drive (except in the state of Virginia). You must stay in this stage until you reach a certain age.

In the full privilege stage, you have a full driver’s license with no provisions. You can drive at all hours and carry a car full of passengers. At what age you reach this stage varies from state to state, and some states allow you to reach this stage more quickly if you take driver’s education.

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