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Teen Driving Laws in New York City: What Every Teen Driver & Parent Should Know

Posted in Teen Driving Laws on August 27, 2021

Teen Driving Laws in New York City: What Every Teen Driver & Parent Should Know

Learning how to drive can be an exciting experience for a teenager. However, it can also be an intimidating one. This is particularly true in a busy environment like New York City.

There are many steps teen drivers and their parents can take to avoid car accidents and traffic law violations. One is to learn about NYC’s teen driving laws.

Be aware, NYC has certain unique restrictions on teen driving that may not necessarily apply in other parts of the state. This guide will explain what teens and their parents need to know.

NYC’s Teen Driving Laws: Essential Information

NYC has a number of laws and policies that both teen drivers and their parents must be familiar with. They include the following:

Learner’s Permit Laws

A teenager may apply for a learner’s permit when they reach 16 years of age. A parent or guardian must sign the application and provide proof of residency, a valid ID, and a social security card.

A teen must then pass a vision exam and a test that measures their knowledge of traffic laws. They may be exempt from these tests if they already passed them as part of a certified driver’s education course.

With a learner’s permit, a teenager can drive between the hours of 5:00 AM and 9:00 PM. They must be supervised by an adult over the age of 21. In NYC, that adult must be a parent, guardian, or driver’s ed instructor. Unless supervised by a parent, guardian, or driver’s ed instructor, a teen with a learner’s permit may not drive with more than one non-family passenger under the age of 21.

Junior License Laws

A 16-year-old in New York can apply for a junior license if they’ve had a learner’s permit for at least six months without a suspension. Again, a parent or guardian must sign the application. With it they must include a signed driving log confirming they’ve had at least 50 hours of driving experience. Fifteen of those hours must have involved nighttime driving.

Teens must also take certified pre-licensing courses before taking the road test. They must submit certificates of completion with their applications.

A teen who passes a road test may be issued a junior license. However, applying for a junior license in NYC may be pointless unless a teen has reason to drive outside of the city. It’s unlawful for a junior license holder to drive under any circumstances in NYC.

If a teen with a junior license does drive outside of NYC, they can’t have more than one non-family passenger under the age of 21 without proper supervision from a parent, guardian, or driver’s ed instructor. They also may only drive between 5:00 AM and 9:00 PM. That said, they can drive after hours under proper supervision or if they are driving for documented school or work purposes.

Full License Laws

If a teen has completed a certified driver’s education course, they can apply for full driving privileges in New York once they reach the age of 17. If they haven’t completed such a course, they must be 18 to apply for a full license.

Many recommend that teens wait until they are 18 before applying for driver’s licenses of any type in NYC. They could apply for a full license at age 17 with a junior license, but they would have had to have taken a driver’s ed course outside of the city to do so.

These laws may seem strict to a teen eager to get behind the wheel. However, they exist for a reason. Failure to obey the law can result not only in penalties, but in genuine harm. That’s less likely to happen if a teen and their parents know what they can and can’t do as a NYC driver. If a teen driver is injured in an accident, their family should contact an attorney to discuss legal options.