At some point in your life, you had a driving permit as you learned to drive. While a permit allows you to drive with a licensed driver as you learn, there are limitations on what you can do.
Here we will learn what a learner’s permit allows, various restrictions within an age group, and what will happen if you get caught driving with a permit.
What the learner’s permit covers
With a learner’s permit, you can drive under the supervision of a qualified licensed driver 21 years or older as a learner. It gives you a state-specified period to learn the traffic signs and the rules of the road while honing your skills as a driver before you take the written exam, driver’s test, and obtain a driver’s license.
Permits are issued in most states by age groups. These age groups are 16 – 18 years old and 18 years and older. Rules are slightly different for each age group.
16–18-year-old driving permit
Most sophomores in high school take driver’s ed. After studying the road rules, they take the written exam and are issued a learner’s permit when they pass.
Once they have that permit, they drive with a school instructor for a state-specified amount of time (in Illinois, it is 12 driving days), then they must drive with a 21-year-old driver and obtain the rest of the required experience.
There is usually a curfew for the teenage learner, and some insurance companies offer discounted insurance if they maintain an “A” average in school or complete a driving log that shows they have completed their required experience, like driving so many hours in the dark, on the highway, and in snowy or rainy conditions.
There is a specific waiting period before obtaining a driver’s license.
18 – and older learner’s permit
In Illinois, you do not have to get a learner’s permit to obtain a license…but you can’t practice driving behind the wheel to take the driving test unless you have the learner’s permit (you really do need to have the permit to drive!)
Some states do not have adult driver permits. There is no curfew for this group, and it is up to them to get as much driving experience in various situations. Each state varies as to when you can get a driver’s license as an adult.
What Happens If…
The police pull me over while driving on a permit?
If you are driving within the permit restrictions with a legal age driver, don’t panic. They pull people over for many reasons: a headlight or tail light is out, your license plate is expired, or you didn’t stop correctly at the stop sign.
Relax and keep your hands where the officer can see them. Be respectful when talking to him and give him the permit and car’s registration when asked. Most officers will issue a verbal warning and some driving words of wisdom. Thank the officer for the advice, and be on your way.
If he gives you a warning ticket, you will have to sign it. If you are given an actual citation, you’ll need to sign it and appear in court as directed. Read the state’s rules carefully before you go to court and hire an attorney if it warrants it.
The police pulled me over, and there was no 21-year-old driver with me?
You definitely won’t be driving home. The car could be left where it is for a legal driver to retrieve, or it may be towed to the impound lot. They will take you to the station, place you on a cell and call your parents, or you get to call someone depending on your age.
You violated the permit so that you will get a ticket. You will go to court, and if you are under 18, you will probably lose your driving privileges until you turn 18. Some states will make you pay a hefty fine and suspend your permit for at least six months. The insurance company may also make you take a driving class of their choice to keep your insurance.
I am caught driving without my permit?
You will lose your permit for a specified period if you are over 18. If you are under 18, you may not be allowed to drive until 18 or 21, depending on the state.
They will tow and impound your car, or someone will need to come and get it. You will be going to the police station where someone will have to pick you up. You will no doubt get a ticket and a court date. You may also have to pay a hefty fine and/or go to driving school, l depending on the state and your age.
I am driving under the influence while driving on a permit?
Most states have Zero Tolerance laws that automatically suspend all driving privileges for two or more years. You will definitely be arrested and have to go to court. Depending on the state and your age, you may get jail time.
Drivers under 21 not only go through all the above, but their parents are responsible for them, so their parents may get fined or go to jail, depending on the state.
Is your learner’s permit legal in every state?
No, your driving privileges are only good in the state where the permit was issued. If you get caught driving in a state that did not issue the permit, that state will prosecute you as if you were driving without a permit.
Tips for drivers with a learner’s permit
- Do not touch your cellphone while driving, not even at a stoplight
- Always have a 21year old or older driver in the car when driving on a permit
- Inspect the vehicle before driving it to ensure everything is working properly
- Drive in different weather, on various roads, and at night to get the most experience
- Don’t complicate the process with drugs or alcohol
- Never drive without your permit
- If the police pull you over, be cooperative and respectful