Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
There are a number of steps to getting a driver’s license. First, you need to pass the permit test, then learn how to drive and finally pass the driving test.
As part of this process, the Graduated Driver License System in many states across the US issues teenagers with a probationary or provisional license after they passed their driving test.
In this article, we will be looking at what exactly a probationary license is, and what makes it different from a normal driving license.
What Is A Probationary License?
Teens between the ages of 15 and 18, who passed their driving test, are not immediately allowed to drive without restrictions.
For this reason, most states offer a provisional driver’s license that allows them to drive on their own, but with limitations in place.
Only after they reach a certain age, or after a certain amount of time, will they be issued a full driver’s license that lets them drive without restrictions.
The majority of states automatically upgrade young drivers to a regular driver’s license when they turn 18 years old.
What Is The Graduated Driver License System?
We already briefly mentioned the Graduated Driver License System. This is a system in place across most US states to help new drivers ease into driving, give them as much support as possible without putting too much responsibility on their shoulders.
Restricting the driver’s license for young drivers will allow them to get used to driving and develop their decision-making skills over time.
How Do You Get A Probationary License?
A provisional license is the last step on your journey to become a licensed driver, so first you will have to fulfill certain requirements and complete each step before you get any type of driver’s license.
Effectively, a probationary driver’s license is a driver’s license that is limited in certain ways due to your age.
Although this may vary by state, the basic steps to get a probationary license are:
- You need to be 15 ½ years old or older
- You need to pass the permit test. You may need to complete driver education first before you can take the test. There are different courses and example tests available so you can prepare for the permit test.
- Practice as much as possible for your driver’s license exam. You can use a driving instructor or take along your parents. They will be able to give useful, practical advice.
- It’s time to complete the road test.
- Once you passed your road test, you just need to pass a vision test to ensure you can see everything well enough when driving.
- When you passed all these tests, you finally get your probationary driving license.
This may seem like a lot of steps to get through, this is a longer process and can take some time. You can take one step at a time and concentrate on each task individually.
How Do You Apply For A Probationary Driver’s License?
There are a few things you need to bring when you want to apply for your provisional driver’s license at the DMV office. Here is a list of the documents you need to apply for a provisional license:
- Your ID. Bring your passport or any document that proves who you are.
- The original or a copy of your birth certificate
- The driver’s license application. If you want to apply for a probationary driver’s license, you need your parents or guardian to fill in a driver’s license application and sign it. They need to do this because as a minor you need your parents’ or guardian’s consent.
- Proof of residency. Bring along two documents as proof of residency in the state where you want to obtain your driving license.
- Proof of financial security. This refers to car insurance. As you need to use your own car for the driving test, you have to make sure it has car insurance that covers any possible accidents. As a minor, you can use your parents’ insurance.
- Course completion certificate. This depends on the state you live in but some states require you to bring proof that you have completed the driver’s exam and the road test.
- Proof of legal status. You need to provide proof that you are either a US citizen, or that you are legally in the country. If you are a non-US citizen, you need to show additional documents that prove you have the right to stay in the US.
- Proof of completion of driver’s education. Only some states require proof of you completing driver’s education.
- Proof of school enrollment. Some states also need proof that you are enrolled in school.
What Are The Restrictions For A Probationary Driver’s License?
Individual restrictions for provisional license holders do vary across states but generally drivers are restricted from driving outside of the hours of 5am to 9pm and transporting passengers below the age of 20.
These restrictions gradually get teenagers used to driving solo. They also reduce the risk of severe accidents as the driver will not be too young to make the right decisions in traffic.
Particularly the restrictions on transporting minors aim to remove group pressure to transport friends and drive at night.
What Happens If You Disobey The Probationary License Restrictions?
If you fail to comply with the restrictions of your provisional license without a valid reason, you may be fined or have your probationary license suspended or, worse, even evoked.
Can You Be Exempted From The Restrictions?
You can be exempted from the restrictions of your probationary license, but you will need to keep a written record, signed by certain authorities, on details of the reason and date of the exemption. Not all reasons are valid, and exemptions vary by state.
Some of the valid reasons for exemption include:
- School activities. You must have a written note detailing the reason for the exemption and the duration. This must be signed by the dean, school principal or another authorized person.
- Medical emergencies. When there are no other driving options available, cases of medical emergencies are exempt from the restrictions. Here the written record must be signed by the doctor and include the medical reason, diagnosis and the duration of the exemption.
- Job-related reasons. Some people have a job that requires them to drive outside of the hours. In this case, you need a written note signed by your employer and a detailed description of the job with regard to the exemption.
- Family. Some cases of family emergencies also necessitate an exemption. For example, if you are the only person holding a license to run errands. Here the written record needs to be signed by your parent or guardian with details on the family necessity.
It’s important to remember that these exemptions are there for emergencies.
They do not constitute the rule. If you are caught driving without a non-valid exemption notice, you may face serious fines or have your driving license revoked.