Each U.S. establishes its own driving laws. These include speed limits, cell phone use, and seat belt laws. Despite these laws to promote road safety, some states still have the worst drivers. States have adopted graduated license programs to help teens learn and adapt to safe driving. Each state establishes its own driving laws, and ages can vary greatly.
Driver’s licenses are issued by each state, including the District of Columbia, rather than by the federal government. Drivers are required to obtain a license in their state of residence, but all states recognize each other’s licenses as valid forms of identification for non-resident age requirements.
States have specific ages for learner’s permits, restricted licenses, full licenses, and rental cars. Graduated license programs have been so effective that states are considering adopting similar programs for older teens (18 to 20-year-olds) who are becoming first-time drivers.
Once a teen is of age to get his/her learner’s permit, a set number of hours of professional instruction are typically required to receive the permit. Some states require every driver to attend some type of driver’s education before obtaining a learner’s permit.
Restricted licenses have regulations on drivers for a period of time after receiving their license, typically anywhere between the first six months to the first year and a half. Restricted licenses typically prohibit the driver from driving at night past a specific hour or having more than one passenger under a specific age in the car.
Once drivers reach the full license age, they are eligible for a full, unrestricted license. Some states require that the driver must not have been convicted of violating a traffic law with their restricted license to receive their full license. In some states, such as Oklahoma, the law requires drivers to have their restricted license for at least six months and then allows drivers to be eligible for a full license. Drivers must go to their state’s DMV to obtain a new license.
The youngest age in any state that a driver can obtain a learner’s permit is 14 years old, and the highest age is 16 years old. Restricted licenses can be obtained anywhere from 14.5 years to 17 years old, and full licenses are granted between 16 to 18 years old.