The State of Tennessee Graduated License Program
All Tennessee teen drivers under the age of 18 are required to participate in the graduated license program. The program allows new drivers to practice driving under supervision and with certain restrictions in place to minimize high-risk situations and increase adult supervision. As the teen driver gains experience and education, the driver is allowed to graduate to a less restrictive licensing level and eventually reach full unrestricted licensure.
Level 1: The Tennessee Learner Permit
The driver must be a minimum of 15 years of age to qualify for a Tennessee learner permit. All applicants must have an adult sign the Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation form. This form holds the signing adult responsible for the actions of the teen driver and also places financial responsibility on the adult. The form must be signed by a parent, legal guardian or step-parent that resides at the residence of the teen driver.
If the adult that signs the Minor/Teenage Affidavit and Cancellation form cannot be present during the application process, the form must be signed in the presence of a notary public. Applicants under the age of 18 must prove their current enrollment in school or provide proof of graduation from high school. The proof provided must be an original copy of the high school diploma or a GED certificate, there are no photo-copies allowed.
Teen applicants that are enrolled in a State of Tennessee school must complete a Certificate of Compulsory School Attendance form. The form must be filled out and signed by a school official. After signing, the form is only valid for 30 days. During the summer months, if the form is signed within the last 30 days of school before summer, it will be accepted until 30 days after school begins.
All applicants for a State of Tennessee Learner Permit must pass a vision screening and a written exam. After all these criteria have been met the teen driver will receive a Tennessee learner permit. The learner permit holder may only drive when accompanied by a licensed driver that is a minimum of 21 years age. The licensed adult must occupy the front passenger seat next to the learner permit holder at all times.
- The teen driver must hold the learner permit for 180 days before they can graduate to the Intermediate Restricted License. All passengers and the driver must wear safety belts.
- Learner permit holders are only allowed to drive between the hours of 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
- Teen drivers that hold a State of Tennessee learner permit are prohibited from using a cell phone or any hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle.
Level 2: The Tennessee Intermediate Restricted License
Applicants for Tennessee 's Intermediate Restricted License must be a minimum of 16 years of age. All applicants must have held a Tennessee learner permit for a minimum of 180 days and pass a driving test. Teen drivers that have been convicted of traffic violations and have accumulated more than 6 points on their driving record within 180 of the current application may not apply. Applicants must present signed verification from a parent, legal guardian or a qualified driving instructor of 50 hours of driving experience.
- 10 out of the 50 hours must have been nighttime driving.
- The signed verification must be on the official Tennessee Department of Safety form that is available at all driver license stations or downloaded from the Department of Safety website.
- All passengers and the driver must wear safety belts or be restrained in an approved child safety seat.
- Passengers are limited to siblings that are being transported to or from home to school or 1 passenger unless there is a licensed driver that is a minimum of 21 years of age in the vehicle.
- Intermediate Restricted License holders are restricted from driving between the hours of 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM. If the restricted license holder wishes to drive during these hours they must meet one of the following requirements: (a) Be accompanied by a licensed adult that is a minimum of 21 years of age. (b) Driving to or from a place of employment (Requires Written Permission), (c) Driving to of from school sanctioned activity (Requires Written Permission), or (d) Hunting or Fishing between the hours of 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM (Must carry a valid fishing or hunting license).
Teen drivers that hold a State of Tennessee Intermediate Restricted License are prohibited from using a Cellular Phone or any hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle.
Level 3: The Tennessee Intermediate Unrestricted License Level 2
Applicants for the Tennessee Intermediate Unrestricted License must be a minimum of 17 years of age and have held an Intermediate Restricted License for a minimum of 1 year. The driver may not apply for the Tennessee Intermediate Unrestricted License if any of the following apply:
- The driver has been convicted of traffic violations that add up to more than 6 points on your driving record.
- The driver has been involved in a traffic accident in which you were at fault.
- The driver has 2 safety belt violations.
If you meet all of the criteria you may receive your Tennessee Intermediate Unrestricted License. All passengers and the driver must be wearing safety belts at all times.
Level 4: State of Tennessee Regular Driver License
Teen drivers that are 18 years of age may receive a Class D regular driver license. You may also receive the regular driver license when you graduate high school or receive your General Education Diploma. If applicable, the regular driver license will indicate that you are under the age of 21 and the word Immediate will be removed.
Tennessee Insurance Requirements and Financial Responsibility Law
To legally drive an automobile in the State of Tennessee you must be able to prove one of the following:
- Liability insurance with a single limit policy not less than $60,000 per accident, or
- A deposit of $60,000 cash with the commissioner, or
- Filing and executing a bond with the commissioner for $60,000, or
- A split-limit policy that contains the following:
- $25,000 Bodily Injury or Death of 1 person in 1 Accident
- $50,000 Bodily Injury or Death of 2 or more persons in 1 Accident
- $15,000 Damage to the Property of others in any 1 Accident
Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements, you may want to speak to your insurance agent regarding coverage above and beyond the legal requirements.
Other Tennessee Information
The links below provide additional information found on this website surrounding Tennessee driving laws.
- Tennessee Cell Phone and Text Messaging Driving Laws
- Tennessee Drunk Driving Laws, Penalties & Fines
- Insurance Requirements
- Speeding Laws