Can You Drive Alone With a Learner’s Permit?

Last Updated on August 10, 2021

A learner’s permit is the first step towards becoming a fully licensed driver. Depending on your state, you may be able to drive alone with a learner’s permit.

In most states, drivers with a learner’s permit must have a fully licensed driver (often a family member) in the vehicle at all times. In some states, however, drivers can drive alone with a learner’s permit.

Keep reading to discover learner’s permit rules for your state.

What Is a Learner’s Permit?

A learner’s permit, also known as an instructional permit in some states, is a document granting the individual some level of driving privileges.

Most people get a learner’s permit during their teenage years. In some states, drivers can obtain a learner’s permit at age 14. In most states, drivers can obtain a learner’s permit at 16.

After holding a learner’s permit for a predefined length of time, you can apply to obtain a full driver’s license. A full driver’s license expands your driving privileges.

Every state in America (as well as Washington, D.C.) uses a graduated driver’s license program for teenage drivers. Although the requirements vary by state, most states use a learner’s permit system as the first step towards becoming a full driver.

Can I Drive Alone with a Learner’s Permit?

Most states require you to have a licensed driver in your vehicle at all times if you have a learner’s permit. You cannot drive a vehicle on your own.

Can You Drive Alone With a Learner’s Permit?

However, some states allow exceptions to this rule. In California and other states, for example, minors can operate a vehicle with a learner’s permit alone in a medical emergency when reasonable transportation is not available. You may also be permitted to drive a vehicle alone to school, school-authorized activities, jobs, and immediate family members, among other places.

In many states, learner’s permit restrictions only apply to drivers under age 18. If you obtain your learner’s permit after age 18, then you may not need to follow any restrictions for curfew, supervisors, or other requirements.

Below, we’ll summarize some of the rules about driving alone with a learner’s permit by state.

Most States Do Not Allow You To Drive Alone With a Learner’s Permit

In most states, drivers with a learner’s permit are not allowed to drive on their own.

Most states require drivers to have a licensed driver in the vehicle that is at least 21 years of age. That driver must have a license valid for operating the vehicle. Most states also require the driver to be in a position to take over control of the vehicle if needed (i.e. sitting in the passenger street).

Check state-by-state learner’s permit restrictions below to determine if you can drive alone with a learner’s permit in your state.

Alabama

You must be age 15 or older to obtain a learner’s permit in Alabama. A learner’s permit (also known as a Stage I license) authorizes teens to drive when accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or licensed driver who is age 21 or older. That driver must occupy the front seat beside the licensee. Teens may also drive when accompanied by a driving instructor (assuming the instructor is licensed and certified).

These rules do not apply to individuals who are age 18 and older when they obtain their learner’s permit, nor does it apply to individuals age 17 or older who have had valid driver licenses for six months or longer.

Alaska

You can obtain an instruction permit at age 14 in Alaska. When driving with a learner’s permit, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years of age or older. That driver must have at least one year of driving experience in the type of vehicle you are driving, and that driver must remain seated in the passenger seat at all times.

Arizona

You can obtain a learner’s permit in Arizona when you reach 15 years and 6 months old. When driving with your learner’s permit, you must have a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age seated in the front seat next to you at all times.

Arkansas

According to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, teenagers can obtain their learner’s permit in Arkansas at age 14. The learner’s permit is specifically designed for drivers ages 14 and 15. With a learner’s permit, you are allowed to operate a motor vehicle if accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years of age or older.

California

Teenagers in California can obtain a license at age 15.5. A parent must visit the DMV with their teen and provide proof of age (via a birth certificate), Social Security Number, and proof of residency in California. After providing this information, you receive a provisional permit (also known as a learner’s permit).

Before you can drive alone with a learner’s permit in California, you need to complete the following requirements:

  • Practice driving for a minimum of 50 hours with a licensed parent or guardian
  • Drive a minimum of 10 hours at night with an adult 25 or older
  • Complete a California driver’s education course
  • Complete a minimum of six hours of instruction with a California-approved driving instructor
  • Hold the provisional license for a minimum of 6 months
  • Be at least 16 years of age

Once you have completed these requirements, the parent and teen must go to the DMV to sign a document (under penalty of perjury) verifying they have completed the minimum requirements above.

After completing the document, the teenager can drive themselves to school on their own. Teens may face other driving restrictions (like no driving between 11pm and 5am) and passenger restrictions (no passengers under 20 years of age unless a 25-year old or older adult is in the vehicle). Once you turn 18, you receive full driving privileges and these restrictions disappear.

Colorado

Teens with a learner’s permit in Colorado must be accompanied by a driving instructor, parent, legal guardian, or a licensed adult when driving. That adult must set in the front seat, buckled up, at all times the teen is driving the vehicle. For the first six months of using your learner’s permit, you can have no passengers under 21 in your vehicle (unless a parent or other licensed driver over 21 is in the vehicle). For the next six months, you are allowed to have one passenger under age 21.

Colorado, like other states, allows medical emergencies as an exception. If you have a medical emergency and no other reasonable method of transportation, then you are permitted to temporarily avoid these rules, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Connecticut

For the entire time a teen driver holds a learner’s permit in Connecticut, the driver may not have any passengers except for a licensed driving instructor or a person providing instruction. That person needs to be at least 20 years old and must have held a driver’s license for four or more consecutive years with zero license suspensions. Parents or guardians may accompany the instructor.

Drivers with a learner’s permit have no curfew restrictions in Connecticut, according to the Connecticut DMV.

Delaware

To obtain a Level One learner’s permit in Delaware, you must be at least 16 years old and less than 18 years old. As a learner’s permit holder in Delaware, you must hold the permit at all times when driving the motor vehicle. You are allowed to have no passengers in your vehicle aside from an adult supervisor and one other passenger (for the first 12 months).

During the mandatory supervision period, the learner’s permit’s supervisor must be a properly licensed parent, guardian, or licensed driver. That person needs to be at least 25 years old and must have held a driver’s license for at least five years. The driver needs to sit in the front seat of the vehicle at all times when in motion. You must remain supervised at all times for the first six months of your learner’s permit, according to the Delaware DMW.

Florida

Florida requires all drivers with a learner’s permit to be accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older. You must hold your learner’s permit for a minimum of 12 months or until your 18th birthday (whichever comes first). You must also complete 50 hours of supervised driving, which includes 10 hours of supervised night driving. For the first three months after your learner’s permit is issued, you cannot drive after 10pm, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Georgia

Georgia’s Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. You must complete a knowledge test to obtain a learner’s permit. Once you have a learner’s permit, you must be accompanied by an individual who is at least 21 years old. That individual must hold a valid Class C driver’s license and sit next to the driver at all times, being able to take control of the vehicle if necessary.

Hawaii

You must be 15 years and six months old to obtain a learner’s permit in Hawaii, according to the state’s Graduated Licensing Program requirements. As a learner’s permit holder, you must be seated next to a person who is at least 21 years old and licensed to operate the same type of motor vehicle. If you are driving your vehicle between 11pm and 5am, then a supervising parent or guardian must be seated next to the learner’s permit holder.

Idaho

Idaho’s Graduated Driver’s Licensing (GDL) program requires drivers under age 17 to complete certain requirements. You must pass an approved driver education class, complete a supervised driving period, and pass a written knowledge and road skills test. You can obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. Drivers under age 16 must drive only during daylight hours unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age and sitting beside the driver. No other passengers are allowed in the front seat.

During the first six months of your learner’s permit, drivers under age 17 must limit the number of passengers in the vehicle who are under the age of 17 to no more than one passenger, unless the passengers are related to the driver by blood, adoption, or marriage.

Illinois

The state of Illinois allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit on their 15th birthday. Once you have a learner’s permit, you must carry that permit with you at all times when behind the wheel. You must also log at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, which includes 10 hours of nighttime driving. The supervising driver must be at least 21 years old and hold a license for the type of vehicle you are driving. That driver must have a minimum of one year of driving experience.

Indiana

Indiana’s BMV allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15 when enrolled in an approved behind-the-wheel training course. To obtain a learner’s permit without enrolling in a course, you must be at least 16 years of age or older. As a learner’s permit holder, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver instructor or a certified driver rehabilitation specialist recognized by the BMV. The instructor must be seated in the front passenger seat.

You can also practice driving with a licensed driver who is 25 years of age and older, assuming that driver’s license has not expired, been suspended, or been revoked. The driver must also be related to you by blood, marriage, or legal status. You can also practice driving with your spouse, assuming your spouse has a license and is at least 21 years old. The supervisor must be seated in your vehicle’s front passenger seat.

Iowa

Iowa’s Department of Transportation allows drivers to obtain an instruction permit (a learner’s permit) at age 14. You must pass a written and vision test to obtain a learner’s permit.

With a learner’s permit, you can drive at any time with adult supervision. ‘Adult supervision’ is defined as a parent, guardian, custodian, or immediate family member who as at least 21 years old, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 with written permission from your parent or guardian. The supervising adult must hold a valid driver’s license. You cannot drive without adult supervision in Iowa at any time. You are not permitted to carry more passengers than the number of seatbelts in your vehicle.

Kansas

Kansas does not allow drivers to drive alone with a learner’s permit. You must have a licensed driver who is at least 18 years of age. that driver must have more than one year of driving experience and be seated next to you whenever you’re behind the wheel. The number of passengers in your vehicle is limited to the number of available seat belts. Seat belts must be worn by everyone in the vehicle, and the learner’s permit holder cannot use a cell phone when driving.

Kentucky

Kentucky’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program allows teens to obtain a learner’s permit at age 16 after passing written knowledge and vision tests. You must hold the learner’s permit for a minimum of 180 days before progressing to the next phase.

Permit holders may drive only when accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years of age or older. That driver must be seated in the front passenger seat. Drivers have curfew restrictions and must maintain driving practice logs before graduating to their intermediate license phase.

Louisiana

Louisiana allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15 upon successful completion of a driver’s education course, a visual exam, and a written exam. While driving with a learner’s permit, drivers must be accompanied by a licensed parent, guardian, or adult at least 21 years of age or older. Alternatively, drivers can drive with a licensed sibling at least 18 or older.

Maine

Maine allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. The learner’s permit allows the driver to drive a motor vehicle on public roads in Maine while accompanied by a licensed operator (unless driving a motorcycle or moped). That supervising licensed operator must have held a valid license for at least two years, be at least 20 years old, be occupying the seat next to the driver, and be licensed to operate the same class of vehicle.

Maryland

Maryland allows individuals to obtain a learner’s permit when they’re 15 years and 9 months old. When driving with a learner’s permit, learner’s permit holders must be accompanied by a qualified supervising driver. That driver must be 21 years of age or older and must have held a valid license for a minimum of three years. The supervisor must be seated beside the new driver at all times with no other front seat occupants.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts allows individuals to obtain a learner’s permit at age 16. After obtaining your learner’s permit, you must carry that permit at all times when driving a vehicle until you obtain a Junior Operator’s License or a full driving license. You must be accompanied by a licensed operator who is at least 21 years old and holds a valid driver’s license. That driver must sit in the front seat and have at least one year of driving experience. Drivers under age 18 with a learner’s permit cannot drive between 12am and 5am unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who meets the above requirements.

Michigan

Michigan allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at 14 years and eight months. Michigan calls it a Level 1 license. Under a Level 1 license, you are allowed to practice driving whenever you’re with a licensed adult who is at least 21 years of age or older.

Minnesota

Minnesota’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) program allows drivers to obtain an instruction permit at age 15. For the first six months of licensure, the driver is only allowed one passenger under age 20, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Mississippi

Mississippi requires learner’s permit holders to have a supervising driver 21 years of age or older seated next to them at all times. The supervising driver must be prepared to take control of the vehicle at any time. The learner’s permit holder must observe these restrictions for at least 12 months. You can obtain your learner’s permit at age 16.

Missouri

Missouri allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. Under age 16 with a learner’s permit, you may only drive when accompanied in the front seat by a likened driver. That driver must be a qualified person, a grandparent, a qualified driver instructor, a qualified driver at least 25 years of age who has been licensed for a minimum three years of age and has written permission from the parent or legal guardian, or a qualified driver designated by the disabled parent or guardian of the permit holder, according to state law.

After age 16, a learner’s permit holder may drive when accompanied in the front seat by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and has a valid driver’s license.

Montana

Montana allows individuals to obtain a learner’s permit at age 14 and six months. You must hold the permit for a minimum of six months before applying for a first year restricted license. You must be supervised by a licensed parent or legal guardian until you complete 50 hours of driving, including 10 hours of night driving. You must not drive between the hours of 11pm and 5am unless you are driving to or from school, church, your place of employment, a farm-related activity, or due to an emergency.

Nebraska

You can apply for a learner’s permit in Nebraska 60 days before your 15th birthday, although the learner’s permit cannot be issued until the day of your 15th birthday or after your 15th birthday. As a learner’s permit holder, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 at all times. That driver must occupy the seat beside the driver.

Nevada

Nevada allows individuals to obtain an instruction permit (also known as a learner’s permit) at age 15 years, six months. You must complete 50 hours of driving experience with a licensed driver 21 years of older who has been licensed for at least one year. 10 hours of that experience must be completed in darkness. Once you have completed this training and have reached age 16, you can apply for a full license.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire does not issue learner’s permits. However, you can begin learning to drive at age 15 years, six months. You must carry proof of age with you in the vehicle. You must also be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible, licensed adult 25 years of age or older at all times. That individual must sit in the front seat of the vehicle.

New Jersey

New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 16. You must practice supervised driving for six months, after which you can make your road test and graduate to a full driver’s license.

New Mexico

New Mexico requires drivers with a learner’s permit to be accompanied by a supervising driver in the front seat at all times. That supervising driver must be at least 23 years old and have at least three years of driving experience. The supervising driver can be either a certified driving instructor or a licensed driver who meets the requirements. You must follow these requirements for at least six months before taking the test for your full license.

New York

No matter how old you are, you cannot drive alone in New York with a learner’s permit. You may only drive when accompanied by a supervising driver age 21 or older with a valid license to operate the vehicle. If you are under age 18, you must wait at least six months before graduating to the next step of the New York GDL program.

North Carolina

North Carolina requires drivers between ages 15 and 17 to apply for a limited learner permit as part of the graduated licensing process. As a level 1 limited learner’s permit holder, you are required to have a supervising driver in the front seat (including a parent or guardian). You must have no other person in the front seat. For the first six months, you can only drive between the hours of 5am and 5pm. After the first six months, you can drive at any time without supervision.

North Dakota

North Dakota allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 14.You must be accompanied by a supervisor driver in the front seat when holding a learner’s permit. After carrying the permit for one year and completing 50 hours of driver training, you can apply for an intermediate license.

Ohio

Ohio allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15 years and six months. Drivers cannot drive unsupervised. After age 16, drivers who complete the learner’s permit phase and a driver training course can apply for a probationary license.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15 years and six months. Drivers must be supervised at all times by a licensed driver at least 21 years old.

Oregon

Oregon allows individuals to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. As a learner’s permit holder, you may only drive when accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and is occupying the front passenger seat. You must hold your learner’s permit for at least six months and accumulate at least 50 hours of certified driving to apply for your provisional license (available after age 16).

Pennsylvania

You can apply for your learner’s permit at age 16 in Pennsylvania. When driving with your learner’s permit, you must be under the direct supervision of a person who as at least 21 years old (or 18 if the spouse of the permit holder), is licensed in Pennsylvania to drive a vehicle of the class being driven, and is seated beside the permit holder.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 16. Permit holders must always be supervised, and that supervisor must sit in the front seat. Once you are at least 16 years and six month sold and have held your learner’s permit for at least six months, you can graduate to a limited provision or intermediate license.

South Carolina

South Carolina allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. You must be supervised at all times when driving. When driving during the day (from 6am to midnight), you must be accompanied by a driver at least 21 years old with at least one year of driving experience. When driving at night (from midnight to 6am), you must be accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian.

South Dakota

South Dakota allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 14. You must be accompanied by a driver at least 18 years of age when driving during the day (from 6am to 10pm). When driving from 10pm to 6am, you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Tennessee

You can obtain a learner’s permit at age 15 in Tennessee. You can only drive when supervised while holding a learner’s permit, and you cannot drive between 10pm and 6am.

Texas

You can get a learner’s permit at age 15 in Texas. You can only operate a vehicle when supervised by a person who is 21 years old and has at least one year of driving experience. That person must sit in the front seat of your vehicle at all times.

Utah

Utah allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. You can drive a vehicle if supervised by a driving instructor or by a licensed driver at least 21 years old.

Vermont

Vermont allows drivers to get a learner’s permit at age 15. As a learner’s permit holder, you must accumulate at least 40 hours of supervised driving (by a parent, guardian, or driving instructor 25 years or older) before graduating to your junior or intermediate license.

Virginia

Virginia allows individuals to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15 years and six months. You must accumulate at least 45 hours of parent or guardian supervised driving before being eligible for an intermediate license. You must also hold your permit for at least nine months and be at least 16 years and three months old before being eligible for a junior or intermediate license.

Washington

Washington allows drivers to obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. As a learner’s permit holder, you must be accompanied by a licensed driver or approved instructor with at least five years of experience.

West Virginia

Teens in West Virginia can obtain a learner’s permit at age 15. With a learner’s permit, you can operate a motor vehicle when accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old (or a driving instructor). You cannot drive between 10pm and 5am, and you cannot carry more than two passengers (in addition to the supervising driver).

Wisconsin

You can obtain a learner’s permit in Wisconsin at age 15 years and six months. You may only drive when supervised by a parent or guardian.

Wyoming

Teens can apply for a learner’s permit in Wyoming at age 15. Permit holders must hold it for at least 10 days and complete 50 hours of certified driving (including 10 hours of nighttime driving). You must have another person in your vehicle (at least 18 years of age or older) with you at all times when driving.

Wyoming is one of the few states with a ‘hardship permit’ exemption. If you are age 14 to 15 and meet certain requirements, then you may obtain a restricted learner’s permit that allows expanded driving privileges. Requirements include living more than five miles from school, having a regular job (with a minimum of 10 hours per week) more than five miles from home, a license to work at a parent’s business, or other circumstances defined as an ‘extreme inconvenience’.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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