What Teens Need to Do to Get Their Driver's License

What Teens Need to Do to Get Their Driver's License

Steps for Teen Drivers
Kip Doyle
teen driver

Gaining the right to legally drive is a rite of passage for many teens, opening the door to new independence and opportunities on the path to adulthood.

So, where to start? AAA can guide teens and parents through the process and provide the expert training required to become a licensed driver.


Get a Learner Permit

It all begins with a learner permit, for which teens are eligible when they turn 16. If a student is under the age of 18, they will need parental consent to apply for a learner permit. The new driver must provide proof of identification and other documents that equal at least six points. Information on consent, and acceptable proof and points value details, can be found on DMV.NY.gov.

The new driver must pass a vision test or bring a completed eye-test report. They must also pass a multiple-choice written test on driving. With these items complete, a learner permit will be issued.

A learner permit comes with several restrictions regarding who can supervise a new driver. These restrictions vary based on the time of day and location within the state. Only a supervising driver age 21 or older with a valid license can ride in the front passenger seat. All occupants must wear safety belts. And, learner permit holders may not drive with more than one non-family passenger under age 21.


Practice Driving & Take a Pre-Licensing Course

New drivers under the age of 18 must have a valid learner permit for at least six months before taking their road test. During this period, the permit holder must practice driving at least 50 hours, including 15 hours of nighttime driving. These practice hours must take place with a licensed parent, guardian, driving school instructor and/or driver education teacher.

Teens are also required to take a pre-licensing course to be eligible to take their road test to receive a junior driver’s license.

AAA’s 5-hour Pre-Licensing Course is available almost every weekend. It covers driving fundamentals such as:

  • The DMV point system
  • The highway transportation system
  • The laws of physics as they relate to driving and the effects of restraining devices
  • Defensive driving techniques
  • What to do in case of a collision
  • The effects of driver attitude, emotions and skills
  • Alcohol and drugs and their effect on driving

After the 5-hour course is completed, a MV-278 certificate will be issued. The MV-278 must be presented to the examiner at the time you take your road test to get your junior driver’s license.


Junior Driver’s License

After the six-month learner permit period, if the practice driving and pre-licensing course requirements have been met, the new driver can schedule and take their road test.

A junior driver’s license comes with the following restrictions:

  • There may be no more than one passenger under age 21 unless the passenger is a member of the training driver's immediate family
  • The holders of a junior driver’s license may not drive in the city of New York
  • Teens may not drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., except to or from a credited school course or work
  • All vehicle occupants must wear safety belts

If you are under age 18 or are the parent of a driver under age 18, please familiarize yourself with the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Law and the restrictions on drivers under age 18. Details can be found on DMV.NY.gov.


Full (Senior) Driver’s License

  • At age 18, a driver who has a valid junior driver’s license will automatically receive a full license in the mail
  • Those who are 18 or older when they pass their road test will be issued a full license
  • Drivers who are 17 are eligible for a full license if they have a junior driver’s license and have completed a driver education course. They must take their junior driver’s license and the MV-285 driver education certificate (which they received from their instructor) to any motor vehicle office to receive a senior license. With a full license, they can drive without any restrictions.

Get Road Ready With AAA's Defensive Driving Course

You may find that training to drive this spring and summer doesn’t fit your teen’s (or your own) schedule. AAA’s Defensive Driving Course is available online or in the classroom.

Graduates receive a certificate that can lower portions of their insurance premium by up to 10% for three years. The course is ideal for current license holders as well. Completion of the course can take up to four points off your driving record for moving violations within the last 18 months.


Learn more about how AAA WCNY can help your teen learn to drive!

AAA Driver Training

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