Driver Licensing Laws & Teen Driver Laws
This section provides a state-by-state summary of driver licensing laws.
Simply click your state to view its laws for obtaining certain licenses, including a learner's permit and license, temporary instruction license, and unrestricted license.
Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.
Ohio Driver Licensing Law
Obtaining an Ohio Temporary Permit
Ohio Temporary Permits may be acquired once turning 15 ½ years old. For individuals under 18, it is required that a parent or guardian must co-sign the permit. Additionally, applicants must supply the following:
- Proof of full legal name and date of birth
- Social Security number
- Proof of citizenship and legal presence
- Proof of residency
Applicants will then need to pass vision and knowledge exams. If successful, the permit will be issued and the supervised driving period will begin. Until the permit holder's 16th birthday, they must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or licensed driver at least 21 years old sitting in the front seat at all times. Before being eligible to move on to the next step of the Graduated License Program, drivers must receive a minimum of 24 hours of classroom instruction with eight hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. An additional 50 hours of driving with a parent or legal guardian is required and must be verified as well. Ten of the hours must be at night.
Permit holders are further restricted from driving between 12AM and 6AM unless accompanied by a licensed parent, guardian, or legal custodian. While practicing, the driver must carry their permit.
Obtaining a Probationary License
When a driver turns 16 and has held a Temporary Permit for at least six months, they will become eligible for a Probationary License. This will require the driver to also successfully complete the Ohio driving test.
The Probationary License is restricted in the following ways:
- Sixteen-year-old drivers are prohibited from operating vehicles between 12AM and 6AM unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. Further exceptions include traveling between home and work or school, or in case of an emergency.
- Seventeen-year-old drivers are prohibited from operating vehicles between 1AM and 5AM with the same restrictions as above
- Sixteen-year-old drivers are prohibited from transporting more than one non-relative unless accompanied by a parent, guardian, or legal custodian
- Seventeen-year-old drivers may not transport more people than the number of originally installed seat belts in the vehicle
This Probationary License remains valid until the driver turns 18. If all the probationary requirements have been met, the driver will then be eligible for a Full License.
Suspensions and Restrictions
- If a probationary driver license holder under the age of 17 is convicted of having committed one moving violation during the first six months of license issuance, the person must be accompanied by a parent or guardian whenever operating a motor vehicle during the six-month period commencing on the date on which the person pleads guilty to, or is convicted of, the moving violation or until the person attains the age of 17, whichever comes first.
- A probationary driver license holder placed under their parent/guardian restriction may petition the court for one time only, limited driving privileges.
- A person's temporary permit or probationary license can be suspended for periods of up to one year if the person is convicted of multiple moving violations or if the person is convicted of any alcohol-related offense.
- A person whose temporary permit or probationary license is suspended has to meet a number of requirements before their permit or license can be returned, including completion of a juvenile driver improvement program and retaking the driver's examination.
Pennsylvania Driver Licensing Law
Obtaining a Pennsylvania Junior Learner's Permit
You must be at least 16 years old to apply for a learner's permit. Also, before applying, you must have a medical professional conduct a physical examination and complete the "Medical Qualification Certificate" section of Form DL-180 to verify that you're medically capable of operating a vehicle.
Then you can visit a licensing center with the following items:
- Completed Non-Commercial Learner's Permit Application (Form DL-180)
- Completed Parent or Guardian Consent Form (DL-180TD) if you're under 18
- Proof of your date of birth and identification (acceptable forms of identification can be found on the reverse side of Form DL-180)
- Your Social Security card
- A check or money order, payable to PennDOT, in the appropriate amount
An eye screening and knowledge test are given, and once they're passed, a learner's permit is issued. The permit is valid for one year. When gaining driving experience you must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older.
Permit holders must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21-years-old or a parent, guardian, or spouse at least 18-years-old and licensed. Young drivers may only drive between 11PM and 5AM if for employment or volunteer service. If a permit holder accumulates six or more points, driving privileges will be revoked for 90 days.
Obtaining a Junior Driver's License
For those under age 18, a six-month waiting period and at least 65 hours behind the wheel with a learner's permit is required prior to taking the skills test for a junior license. The 65 hours must include 10 hours of driving at night and 5 hours of bad-weather driving. Those 18 or older can take the test and receive a license at any time.
For drivers 18 and under who plan to obtain their graduated license before turning 18, a PennDOT approved driver's education course must be completed. If not, a junior license automatically becomes a graduated license upon turning 18.
The following restrictions must be followed by drivers using a junior license:
- No driving between the hours of 11PM and 5AM is allowed unless a parent, guardian, or spouse over 17 years of age accompanies you in the vehicle. You may drive alone from 11PM to 5AM if you're involved with a public service, volunteer fire company, or employed during those hours. As proof, you must carry a notarized affidavit from your employer, supervisor, or fire chief confirming your schedule.
- If an accident occurs for which you are partially or fully responsible, or if you commit certain moving violations, your license may be suspended until you are 18 years old or for a period of time not exceeding 90 days.
- Drivers under 18 will be suspended if they accumulate six or more points or are convicted of driving 26 mph or more over the posted speed limit. The first suspension will be for a period of 90 days. Any subsequent occurrences will result in 120 days of suspension.
- Teens with a junior license without a parent in the vehicle cannot have more than one friend or similar person under age 18 (who is not a member of the household) as a passenger. If you are not in an accident for six months, you will be allowed to carry up to three passengers with the same criteria.
Obtaining a Graduated Driver's License
It's possible to obtain a regular license one year after receiving your junior license and still be under 18. To do so, you must have passed a PennDOT approved driver training program, have no violations or accidents on your record, and have the consent of your parents, guardian, or spouse. If you meet these criteria, you can graduate to a full license as young as 17 and a half.
To apply for your regular license before turning 18 you must fill out the application form (DL-59) and mail it to PennDOT. If your application is approved, you will receive an update card to carry with your Junior Driver's License. If you do not meet the requirements to graduate to a regular license before turning 18, you must wait to have the junior license restrictions lifted automatically when you do turn 18.
Pennsylvania's Zero Tolerance Law
Pennsylvania´s Zero Tolerance Law carries serious consequences for those under 21 who are convicted of driving with any amount of alcohol in their blood. Those under 21 who are convicted of driving under the influence with a .02 blood alcohol content or greater face severe penalties, including a 12-to-18-month license suspension, 48 hours to six months in jail, and fines from $500 to $5,000.
A vehicle does not have to be involved in order for those under 21 to lose their driving privileges. It is against the law for an individual under the age of 21 to consume, possesses or transport alcohol, or lie about their age to obtain alcohol and carry a fake identification card. If convicted, the minimum penalties are a fine of up to $500, plus court costs; a 90-day license suspension for the first offense; a 1-year suspension for the second offense; and a 2-year suspension for the third and subsequent offenses. The courts may require offenders to be evaluated to determine the extent of the involvement with alcohol and may also require successful completion of a program of alcohol education, intervention or counseling.
Additional Impacts on Your Driver´s License: If you do not have a driver´s license, you will be ineligible to apply for a learner´s permit for the time period of the suspension. If you are under 16 years of age, your suspension will not begin until your 16th birthday, provided you acknowledge your suspension, and it is received any time prior to your 16th birthday. In addition to serving a suspension, a restoration fee must be paid before your driverʼs license will be returned or your application for a Non-Commercial Learner´s Permit (DL-180) considered for processing.
Virginia Driver Licensing Law
Obtaining a Virginia Learner's Permit and Driver's License
Virginia has two levels of licensing: a Learner's Permit and a Permanent Driver's License. Upon turning 15 years and 6 months old, teens are permitted to apply for a Learner's Permit. While holding the permit, the driver must receive a minimum of 45 hours, 15 of which must be at night, of behind-the-wheel practice driving while supervised by a licensed parent, legal guardian, or driver over 18 years old. Fifteen of the practice hours must be at night.
To qualify for a Virginia Learner's Permit, applicants must:
- Show two proofs of identity, one proof of legal presence and one proof of Virginia Residency
- Show proof of Social Security number
- Supply written consent and signature from a parent, custodial parent, or legal guardian
- Complete a state-approved driver education program and provide the program certificate
- Pass a vision screening and a two-part knowledge exam
After the permit has been held for nine months, teens 16 years and 3 months old who have completed driver education will become eligible to take the road skills test and apply for a permanent driver's license.
Virginia imposes age-based restrictions on teen drivers. If under 18, the following restrictions apply:
- Driving between 12AM and 4AM is prohibited except in cases of emergencies, traveling between work or school and home, when accompanied by a parent or adult acting in place of a parent, or when responding to an emergency as a volunteer.
- Drivers are only allowed to carry one passenger under 18 in the first year of holding a license and the entire Learner's Permit phase.
- After the first year, drivers may not carry more than three under 18 passengers.
- Drivers are prohibited from using any cellular telephone or any other wireless communication device unless there is a driver emergency or the vehicle is lawfully parked and stopped.
- Immediate family members are not included in passenger restrictions.
- If you are convicted of a demerit-point traffic violation (or a safety belt or child restraint violation) committed when you were under age 18, you will be required to satisfactorily complete a driver improvement clinic. If you do not satisfactorily complete the clinic within 90 days, DMV will suspend your permit or license until the clinic is completed.
- After your second demerit point (or a safety belt or child restraint violation) conviction for a violation committed when you were under age 18, DMV will suspend your permit or license for 90 days. If you have no other means of transportation, you may petition the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in your jurisdiction for restricted driving privileges to drive between home and work.
- After a third demerit point (or a safety belt or child restraint violation) conviction for a violation committed when you were under age 18, DMV will revoke your permit or license for one year or until you reach age 18, whichever is longer.
- You will receive 5 safe driving points if you voluntarily complete a driver improvement clinic. However, safe driving points will not be awarded if clinic attendance was required by DMV or a court.
- A computer-based driver improvement clinic will not satisfy a driver improvement clinic requirement. You must satisfactorily complete a clinic that provides classroom instruction.
West Virginia Driver Licensing Law
Obtaining a Learner's Permit in West Virginia
West Virginia teens are eligible to obtain a Learner's Permit after turning 15. While holding a permit, teens are able to practice driving while under the supervision of a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old. The supervising driver must be present at all times.
When applying for a Learner's Permit, individuals are required to bring the following:
- A certified birth certificate
- Their Social Security card
- Two proofs of West Virginia residency
- A current Driver's Eligibility Certificate, which is issued by county school boards
- A $5 fee
- The written consent of a parent or legal guardian on a form DMV-23
All applicants will be subject to a vision screening and a written knowledge test.
While holding the permit, drivers are bound by the following restrictions:
- Driving with more than two non-family passengers in addition to a supervising adult is prohibited.
- Driving may only occur between 5AM and 10PM.
- The usage of cell phones and texting devices are prohibited.
- All vehicle occupants are required to wear safety belts.
Before applying for an Intermediate License, the Instructional Permit holder must complete 50 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel practice driving. Ten of the practice hours must come at night.
This permit must be held for six months without violations. A driver will be eligible for an Intermediate License when they turn 16 years old.
Obtaining an Intermediate License
The second stage of the West Virginia Graduated Driver License Program, the Intermediate License, allows 16-year-olds to begin driving unsupervised. Before it is awarded, a Learner's Permit holder must:
- Submit a current Driver's Eligibility Certificate
- Have passed the road skills test
- Have submitted a form, signed by a parent or guardian, stating the 50-hour driving practice was completed or submit a Driver's Education Card
In the first six months after receiving the license, drivers may not operate a vehicle with anyone age 20 or younger who is not related. During the second six months, drivers may not transport more than one on family member under 20. Applicants will be required to pass knowledge and driving tests as well as a vision exam.
Additionally, license holders are not allowed to drive between the hours of 5AM and 10PM. Several exceptions apply. If supervised by a licensed adult who is at least 21 years old, if traveling between employment, a school, or religious activity and home, or in the case of an emergency, driving during the restricted hours is permitted.
The cellular phone and safety belt restrictions from the Learner's Permit still apply.
Before applying for an unrestricted license, the teen must hold the Intermediate License for at least one year, without any violations.
Any Intermediate License Holders who receive two moving violations or violate the terms and conditions of their GDL level will have their license revoked at least until they turn18 and possibly longer.