Minnesota uses a graduated license system to advance unlicensed drivers from an instruction permit to a provisional license and, finally, to a valid driver’s license.
Prior to applying for a license, a teen must be enrolled driver’s education and have completed the classroom phase (minimum 15 hours). Once the classroom requirement is completed, a 15-year-old applicant, with parental consent, can take the vision exam and a test covering local traffic signs and traffic laws to receive an instruction permit.
An instruction permit authorizes the holder to drive only under the direct supervision of a driver’s education instructor, a parent or guardian, or a licensed adult age 21 or older. Permit drivers are also prohibited from using a cellphone while driving.
After completing driver’s education and holding the instruction permit for six months (without any moving violations), a 16-year-old teen can apply for a provisional license. The application must be signed by a parent or guardian and include a signed driving log recording 40 hours of supervised driving time (including 15 nighttime hours). Additionally, the person signing the driving log must complete a 90-minute supplemental parental curriculum or have the applicant complete another 10 hours of supervised driving. Then, with proper proof of identity and the application fee, the applicant can take the driving test to obtain a provisional license.
No cellphone. Provisional license holders are prohibited from using a cellphone while driving.
First six months. For the first six months of holding a provisional license, the driver may carry only one non-family member passenger under 20 years old unless supervised by a parent or guardian. The holder is also prohibited from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. unless supervised by a licensed adult who’s at least 25 years old or if driving for work or school purposes.
Second six months. For the second six months, the provisional license holder can transport not more than three non-family member passengers under 20 years old unless supervised by a parent or guardian.
After turning 18 years old or after holding a provisional license for 12 months without any at-fault accidents, DWI convictions, and not more than one moving violation, a teen will be eligible for an unrestricted driver’s license.
Children of farmers are eligible to apply for a restricted license for farm work at the age of 15. The applicant must complete all other requirements but will not be subject to the instruction permit or provisional license restrictions. Instead, the holder is only allowed to drive during daylight, outside of any city, and only within 20 miles of the farmhouse. The application must include proof of the farm’s classification and a verified statement by the parent or guardian describing the necessity for the license.
Before any driver can lawfully operate a vehicle in Minnesota, the vehicle must be properly insured. Minnesota requires residual liability insurance, personal injury protection, and uninsured coverage.
Failure to have valid insurance is a misdemeanor, which carries a mandatory fine of $200 to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail. Causing an accident without insurance or obtaining a third or subsequent conviction in a ten-year period is a gross misdemeanor. A gross misdemeanor carries a $200 to $3,000 fine and up to one year in jail. The court will also revoke the driver’s license for up to 12 months or until proof of valid insurance is shown. The vehicle’s registration will also be revoked until proof of insurance is shown.