Learner's permit

A driver's permit, learner's permit, learner's licence (New Zealand, Republic of Ireland) or provisional licence (British English) is a restricted license that is given to a person who is learning to drive but has not yet satisfied the requirements necessary to obtain a driver's license. Having a driver's permit for a certain length of time is usually one of the requirements (along with driver's education and a road test) for applying for a full driver's license. To get a driver's permit, one must typically pass a written test about rules of the road, although the process varies between jurisdictions.

Typical rules

Generally, a driver's permit allows the holder to operate a motor vehicle in the presence and supervision of a licensed driver. While the requirements vary in each jurisdiction, most have a minimum age requirement usually being fifteen years of age and/or a minimum number of years of driving experience that the supervisor must have.

In addition, many jurisdictions have other guidelines that a holder of a driver's permit must follow while driving. These may include:

  • The learner driver must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver.
  • Safety belts must be worn at all times, even when otherwise not required in the jurisdiction
  • Some jurisdictions prohibit any additional passengers under twenty-one years of age besides the one supervising the driver to be riding in the vehicle used for practice with punishments ranging from a 50 dollar fine to a 6 month jail term. Others allow additional passengers with certain restrictions, which may include their age, their relationship to the practicing driver, or the amount of driving experience they have.
  • Some jurisdictions require a special tag to be posted on the vehicle being used for practice in order to warn other motorists that the practicing driver may be prone to error.
  • Some jurisdictions force motorists who have violated any law with a learner's permit to drive with a warning label or sticker.

Age requirements

United States

In the United States, the minimum age at which a person can receive a learner's permit varies by state, ranging from fourteen to sixteen. Usually, with a driver's permit, the person may only drive with a person who has had a driver's license for over three years, and who also is older than a certain age—often 18, 21, 25. This may depend on the state, and on whether the accompanying person is member of the learner's immediate family.

Learners who are minors must have permission from a parent or guardian, and usually must have had the learner's permit for six months before being able to obtain a driver's license.

A computerized knowledge test is not required in most states. A permit is obtained by showing proof of age and identity and proof of enrollment in a driver's education class.

An adult learner need only have the driver's permit for a few weeks before being able to get a driver's license.

The United States has the youngest driving age in the world. Although New Zealand allows people to drive alone at 15 1/2, 7 of the 50 states allow people to drive alone at 15 1/2 or as early as 14 1/2 in North and South Dakota.

Age to get permit varies per state. Here are the ages in each state where it is allowed to be achieved.

14 years:

Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota

14 years, 3 months


14 years, 6 months

Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Wyoming

14 years, 9 months


15 years

Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia

15 years, 6 months

California, Hawaii, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Wisconsin

15 years, 7 months


15 years, 9 months


15 years, 10 months


16 years

Connecticut, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island

Learner's permits do not exist in New Hampshire. You may drive with adult supervision after reaching 15 years, 6 months.

To obtain a restricted license, the driver must be the minimum age for testing and have had his or her permit for the required duration. A computerized knowledge test is first required. After that is passed, a 10-15 minute drive test is given. It consists of driving around a residential neighborhood. There are no hazard tests. If you fail the test, you must usually wait a week or two to retake it. Here is a list of the minimum ages in each state in which a restricted license (driver may drive alone, but with restrictions):

14 years, 6 months

North Dakota, and South Dakota

15 years

Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska

15 years, 6 months

Mississippi, and New Mexico

16 years

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

16 years, 3 months

Maryland, and Virginia

16 years, 6 months

Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island

17 years

New Jersey

Here is the list of the ages in each state where a full license may be obtained (no restriction except for alcohol if under age 21). No additional driving test is required to obtain one. A full license is usually given after having a restricted license for six months to a year or reaching age 18, whichever is sooner.

No restricted license (driver automatically starts with full license after passing test)

Alabama, Arizona, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota

16 years

Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, and Nebraska

16 years, 6 months

Arkansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming

16 years, 9 months


17 years

California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia

17 years, 3 months


17 years, 6 months

Georgia, and Rhode Island

17 years, 9 months


18 years

Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania


In Australia the minimum age in all states for a learner's permit is 16. Requirements for approval of a learner's permit also vary from state to state. For example, in New South Wales and Victoria, a driver must be only able to answer a random selection of multiple-choice questions , while other states require that a person undergo a state-approved driving course before attaining a learner's permit. New (and in some cases returning) motorcyclists must undergo extensive practical training before being allowed on the road. In all states, the vehicle under control of a learner must display an L-plate and have a licensed driver in the car whilst driving. P-plate drivers that have passed L-plate are on a provisional/probationary license for one to three years, depending on the state. P-Plate drivers may drive unaccompanied by a full license holder. In South Australia, there are two parts of the test; the first, Part A, requires completion of eight Give Way questions, which must all be correct in order to progress to Part B. In Part B there are 42 questions about basic road rules. The tested person must get at least 32 correct answers in order to receive an L-plate.


In Canada, the minimum age varies from province to province and may be 14 or 16. In Ontario, a G1 License is issued to new drivers at the age of 16 after completing a written test. G1 license restrictions include:

  • A person with four years' experience must sit in the seat adjacent the new driver
  • All passengers must wear seat belts
  • The learner must not drive on major highways
  • The learner must not drive between the hours of 12AM and 5AM
  • The learner must have a blood alcohol count of 0

After a period of one year (or eight months if the person has taken a ministry-licensed safe driving course) the learner may upgrade their G1 to a G2 license by taking a road test. The G2 license has fewer restrictions, but still requires seat belts and a BAC of 0. A G2 license does not have time or road restrictions, and the learner is free to drive alone. After one year with a G2, the learner may upgrade to their full G class license by taking another road test, which has a major highway component. A similar program is in effect for motorcycles, the M class license.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the minimum age at which a provisional licence (learner's permit) is valid is 17 (16 for driving a tractor or riding a scooter).But the period of learning may be increased soon, making it almost impossible to receive a full driving licence before they are 18. When driving under a provisional license, the learner must be accompanied by a driver holding a full driving license who is over the age of 21 and has held a full driver's license for a minimum of three years. The vehicle being driven by the learner must also be fitted with L-plates on both the back and front of the vehicle. This tells other road users that the vehicle is being operated by a driver without their full license and that they may make mistakes easily and that the driver may not be fully competent yet. The L-plate consists of a white square plate (often tied to the vehicle or attached by magnets) with a large red L in the middle.


In Sweden, the minimum age is 16 to get a basic car learner's permit; 17 years and six months are required for more advanced vehicle combinations

New Zealand

In New Zealand any person 15 years or over can sit a learner's licensing test, which is a theory multiple choice test on road rules. Once they have passed this, they may drive with an adult who has had their full license for at least two years. They must display L plates at all times when driving. After at least 6 months have passed, they take a road test in order to receive their restricted license. On a restricted license, the learner may only drive between 5am and 10pm, with no passengers other than their dependent children, spouse, or persons holding a full license for more than 2 years. Learners who sit the practical test in an automatic car are only legally allowed to drive an automatic while restricted. People can also sit a full license road test after 18 months or a year if they have undertaken a defensive driving course. Those above the age of 30 do not have to take a test for a driver's license.


In Jamaica any person 17 years or over may apply for a Provisional (Learners) License.

See also

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