Rules and Laws
The Graduated Drivers License (GDL)
On July 1, 1998 the State of California enacted laws that effects all drivers under the age of 18. This was the beginning of stricter controls for younger drivers that have lead to the current laws establishing a graduated driver's license (GDL).
The most recent changes became effective on January 1, 2006. The law now requires teen drivers to have their license for one year before being allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., or before being allowed to transport young passengers without an adult in the car.
An Auto Club analysis of teen crash statistics shows that the changes have further reduced teen crash deaths and injuries. The intent of these laws are to give teens more experience behind the wheel before they tackle complex driving situations. Also, vehicle crashes are the primary cause of death for teens and crash statistics show that teen drivers are among the most dangerous on the road.
Besides California, 48 other states and the District of Columbia have approved some form of teen driving restriction. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has ranked California's GDL law as the most comprehensive in the nation.
What steps does a teen follow to get a license?
Teens and New Drivers have many options to get a California Drivers License. The GDL allows for three different levels to go from a permit to full California Drivers License.
- Learner's Permit (15 years old - see our section for Freshman).
- Minor's Provisional License (16 years old - see our section for Sohphmores)
- California Driver's License (18 years old)
The law requires teen drivers to have their license for one year before being allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., or before being allowed to transport young passengers without an adult in the car.
Teen drivers with less than one year of experience may still carry passengers under age 20 as long as there is an adult 25 or older in the vehicle. The 11 p.m. driving curfew also contains exceptions for work and school attendance.
All the provisions of the GDL law are enforced as secondary violations - that is, a law enforcement officer must first pull over a driver for another possible infraction before the driver will be cited for a violation of the GDL law.
Click on this link to the DMV's Provisional Driver Permit an the DMV's website for additional information.