New York’s Teen Driver’s License and Insurance Requirements

Learn about the requirements for teens to obtain a driver’s license in New York and what insurance is required.

New York requires teens to hold a learner’s permit before obtaining a junior license but also imposes many specific restrictions on teen drivers.

Instruction Permit

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:

  • In New York City, the holder must be supervised by a parent, guardian, or driver’s education instructor, and the vehicle driven must have dual controls for both driver and supervisor and may only be operated from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • In Nassau and Suffolk counties, the holder may drive only from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. and only under the supervision of a parent, guardian, driver’s education instructor, or parent-authorized licensed driver who’s at least 21 years old.

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.

Junior License

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 drive after hours for work or school purposes but must hold valid documentation.
  • Junior licensees may drive after hours under the supervision of a parent or guardian.
  • In New York City, junior license holders are not permitted to drive.
  • In Nassau and Suffolk counties, junior license holders may drive only to and from school or, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., to work or when supervised by a parent, guardian, or driving instructor.

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.

Driver’s License

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.

Insurance

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.

  • Mandatory liability insurance must include at least $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident, and $10,000 property damage per accident. The policy must also include at least $50,000 fatality coverage per person and $100,000 fatality coverage per accident.
  • Uninsured driver coverage must match the mandatory liability coverage for bodily injury and death.
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP). The minimum PIP coverage requires at least $50,000 for medical expenses and income loss and $2,000 for funeral expenses.

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.

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