New York requires teens to hold a learner's permit before obtaining a junior license but also imposes many specific restrictions on teen drivers.
At age 16, New York teens can apply for a learner's permit. The application must be signed by the teen's parent or guardian and include proof of residency, a form of identification, and a social security card. Unless already completed during a driver's education course, the applicant will need to pass a vision exam and a test covering local traffic signs and traffic laws. The test also covers impaired driving, road work zones, and road rage.
A learner's permit allows for the holder to operate a vehicle under the supervision of a licensed driver (who's at least 21 years old) from the front seat. Between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., the teen must be supervised by a parent, guardian, or driver's education instructor. However, some regional exceptions apply:
Permit holders are not allowed to carry more than one non-family member passenger who's under 21 years old unless supervised by a parent, guardian, or driver's education instructor. Additionally, all occupants must wear seatbelts.
After holding the instruction permit for six months (without license suspension), a 16-year-old teen can apply for a junior driver's license. The application must be signed by a parent or guardian and include a signed driving log recording 50 hours of supervised driving time (including 15 nighttime hours). Additionally, the teen must complete a certified pre-licensing course and include the certificate of completion with the application. Then, with proper proof of identity and the application fee, the applicant can take the driving test to obtain a junior license.
The junior license permits the holder to drive a motor vehicle between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. with certain exceptions:
Junior licensees may not transport more than one non-family member passenger under 21 years old unless supervised by a parent, guardian, or driver's education instructor. Passengers must always be properly restrained by a safety belt.
Parental consent. All minor driver's licenses require parental consent. At any time, a parent can withdraw consent and the license will be revoked.
Teens who complete driver's education can apply for an unrestricted license at 17 years old. Otherwise, an unrestricted license will be issued automatically to junior license holders once they reach 18 years old.
Before any driver can lawfully operate a vehicle in New York, the vehicle must be properly insured. New York requires residual liability insurance, personal injury protection, and uninsured coverage.
Failure to have valid insurance is an infraction, which carries a fine of $150 to $1,500 and/or up to 15 days in jail. A civil penalty of $750 will also be imposed as well as a fee for each day without insurance. The driver's license will be revoked for one year. The owner's vehicle registration will be revoked and can be reinstated only after paying the civil fees and showing proof of insurance.