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Teen Driving Legislation by State

Getting your first driver's license is a major milestone and one of the first steps towards adulthood. Getting that first license may seem like an overwhelming process. You are required to take driver's education courses study DMV practice tests and spend hours behind the wheel learning to drive. Recent legislation across the country has made the process of getting a license more challenging for teen drivers in order to prepare teens to drive safely. While every state has slightly different driving laws for teens most states now utilize a graduated driver licensing system.

With this system there are two or three stages a teen must complete before earning an unrestricted driver's license. Typically the graduated licensing system includes a learner stage with supervised driving and mandatory classes an intermediate stage that combines supervised and unsupervised driving and the unrestricted license stage. In addition to graduated licensing laws 48 states have restrictions on nighttime driving and in 47 states there are restrictions on the number and age of passengers in the car for new teen drivers. Currently 37 states prohibit new drivers from using cell phones while driving. While graduated licensing systems and cell phone laws are present in most states there are some laws that exist in only a small part of the country. The following laws are unique to specific states.

South Dakota

South Dakota has one of the youngest driving ages in the nation. Teens are able to begin taking driver education courses beginning at 14 years of age and can earn a restrictive driver's license at 14 years 3 months old.

New Jersey

In New Jersey drivers younger than 21 years of age who have a novice or intermediate stage license are required to display a new driver decal on their vehicle.


Pennsylvania has one of the strictest supervised practice requirements. Teenage drivers in this state must log at least 65 practice hours prior to earning a full license.

South Carolina

Teen drivers can not operate a motor vehicle after 6 p.m. during the winter months or 8 p.m. during the summer months.