New Jersey uses a graduated licenses system to promote unlicensed drivers to an instruction permit, a provisional license, and finally, a valid driver’s license.
Sixteen-year-old New Jersey teens can submit an application (along with the application fee and proof of identification) to the local Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) office to obtain a special instruction permit. The application must be signed by a parent or guardian and must include a certification by the teen’s principal that the teen is presently enrolled in the school’s behind-the-wheel driving education course.
After the applicant passes the vision exam and written test covering local traffic signs and traffic laws, the MVC can issue a special instruction permit. This permit authorizes the driver to operate a vehicle only under the supervision of the behind-the-wheel driving education course instructor. The instructor initially retains the teen’s instruction permit. After completing six hours of the behind-the-wheel driving education course, the instructor gives the permit to the teen, who may then drive while under the supervision (from the front passenger seat) of any adult who’s at least 21 years old and has held a license for at least three years.
Additionally, the teen:
Permit holders who obtain two or more license points (or commit a serious traffic violation or cause an accident) face permit suspension for 90 days. Suspended teens must take a four-hour remedial driving class prior to reinstatement and must then wait an additional 90 days before testing for any provisional license. Any alcohol or drug-related conviction will result in a six-month permit suspension.
Teens who do not take a behind-the-wheel driving education course must wait until age 17 to receive an instruction permit. The examination permit comes with all the same requirements and restrictions as a special instruction permit. However, examination permit holders do not need to complete the behind-the-wheel driving education course before driving with a supervising adult.
To apply for a provisional license, New Jersey teens must be 17 years old and have held an instruction permit (special instruction permit or examination permit) for at least six months. The applicant must have parental consent and pass a driving test. The provisional license allows the motorist to drive without an adult anywhere from 5 a.m. to 11:01 p.m. The teen can drive after outside the curfew hours with proper documentation of a valid religious or school activity.
The provisional licensee can transport only one passenger unless supervised by a parent or if the passenger is a dependent of the teen. Provisional license holders must still refrain from cellphone use and must display two GDL decals in the window of the vehicle while driving.
Provisional license holders who accumulate two license points will be required to complete a four-hour remedial driving class. Any additional license points will result in a three-month suspension. Criminal convictions related to alcohol or drugs will result in a six-month license suspension.
After holding a provisional license for at least one year, an 18-year-old driver can apply for a full license. With a full license, the driver is no longer subject to the provisional license restrictions and can have the provisional license marking removed from his or her driver’s license.
A farm permit may be available to teens who are at least 16 years old. The teen must complete all special permit requirements, including six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. The holder is permitted to drive unsupervised for farm-related purposes but is still subject to all other special instruction permit restrictions. After turning 17 years old, the holder can apply for a provisional license.
New Jersey requires all vehicles driven to be properly insured. New Jersey requires a minimum liability insurance policy of at least $15,000 bodily injury per person, $30,000 bodily injury per accident, and $5,000 property damage per accident. The policy must also include personal injury protection of at least $250,000.
Failure to carry the required insurance will result in community service and a $300 to $1,000 fine. The driver’s license will also be suspended for one year. A second offense carries a maximum $5,000 fine, up to 14 days in jail, 30 days community service, and a two-year driver’s license suspension.