Many variables come into play when you practice driving without a permit. Each state has different requirements for age and how long you have to have the permit before getting a driver’s license. Here we look at what a driving permit allows, a permit’s restrictions, the requirements to obtain a driving permit, and what happens if you practice driving without a permit.
A Brief Explanation of Driving Permits
A permit is not a driver’s license. It is a permit allowing you to drive with specified conditions. Permits are issued to learning drivers. Most people take driver’s education in high school. As part of the curriculum, the driver’s ed teacher educates the learners on the rules of the road, takes them driving for a state-required amount of hours, gives them the state driving test, and ensures all state-required paperwork is downloaded to the state DMV database.
Not everyone gets a permit this way, but adults, students who don’t graduate high school, and home-schooled teens are required to do the same things independently.
Individual states have their rules and regulations regarding driving permits. While some are universal, others are state-specific, and so are the fines and punishment if you get caught driving without a permit.
The rules differ in whom the permit-owning driver can drive with, who can be a passenger in the car, and the requirements to obtain the initial permit.
While you can practice driving without a permit on private property, driving on public roads and property is a misdemeanor in most states.
What is considered private property?
While it sounds self-defining, it can be a slippery slope. A business’s parking lot is
private property, but if the public parks there, it is now a public parking lot, so you MAY NOT practice driving there without a driving permit.
If you go to gramma’s farm or a relative with lots of acreages, you can practice driving there as long as you stay on the confines of their property… don’t leave the driveway. Even if it’s rural, the road is a public road for drivers with permits only!
While restrictions vary by state, there are a few that every state has adopted. Check your state’s DMV for your state’s learning permit rules.
No cell phones: Leave them in your purse, pocket, or glove compartment. Looking at it at a stop light if you are behind the wheel violates the permit. Some states take the permit for a specified amount of time, some take it till you’re 18 – 21, and some fine you and take the privilege away.
Buckle up: Seat belts are mandatory in every state. Most have steep fines for violators, especially if driving on a learner’s permit.
Car insurance: Car Insurance for ALL drivers is mandatory! Permit drivers are at high risk for fender-benders because they lack experience. Many insurance companies offer reduced insurance to students who carry an A average. Larger insurance companies often have young-drivers programs where they watch videos and do a particular driving log to get a discount. Since practice makes perfect, the new drivers benefit from the extra driving time.
License holding driving teacher: Driving on a permit requires you have a licensed driver in the car at ALL times. The license must be in good standing. The age of the licensed driver varies by state but is usually 18 – 21 years. In some states, you must have a certified driving instructor, not your parents!
Specified driving hours: There a specified hours you can drive, usually during the day and at specific times. Illinois has strict driving hours, 6 am to 10 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 6 am to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday.
A permit is specific to one state: Your permit is only legal in the state where you obtained it. No exceptions!
Always carry your permit: Driving without your permit leads to a fine. If it happens more than once, a state revokes your permit.
How to Get a Learner’s Permit
You must be 15 years old to get a permit in most states. The following steps are a general oversite of the process. Check your local DMV for your state’s requirements.
Step 1: Parental consent: Anyone under 18 needs a parent’s permission.
Step 2: Take an approved driving course: The type varies by state and age. In some states, adults can use the Rules of the Roads book as a guide to pass the driving test.
Step 3: A trip to the DMV: Showing proper identification, proof of residency, and filling out the required forms is done at the DMV. Students enrolled in a school driver’s education course may do this in school and through an instructor.
Step 4: Pass all exams: A vision screening is required, and you must pass the written driver’s test with a passing score.
Step 5: State fees: All states require payment to process your permit.
Proving who you are is part of obtaining a driving permit. Only original documents and certified copies can be used. The following documents can be used to confirm your identity and residency. Most states request 3 forms of ID. Contact your local DMV for a complete list.
- Social security card
- Birth certificate – certified copy only
- School ID with picture
- A letter from school with your address as proof of residency
- A utility bill for residency as an adult
- State ID as an adult proof of identity
- Any document with your name and address will prove your ID and where you live
- Current passport
Practice makes perfect
Each state requires many hours of driving during the day and at night. Until those hours are driven, you cannot obtain a Driver’s license. Illinois requires 50 hours of driving, with 10 hours of night driving. All 50 hours must be with an Illinois licensed driver at 21 or older. Some states require less driving practice, but some states require more.
Adults 18 years old and older are required to get a driving permit in some states. Some states require you to take a state-approved driving course and a certain number of hours before getting a driver’s license as well.
Driving permits have an expiration date. In most states, driving permits expire after one year if you are under 18 and in two years if over 18 years old.
I got caught driving without a permit!
Driving without your permit is a misdemeanor in every state. Not only will you get a ticket and a fine of up to $1000, but you can also lose your privilege to drive for 6 months to 2 years, and they can impound your vehicle! It is wiser and cheaper to get the permit and carry it on you as you learn to drive.