What is a graduated driver's license

Driving for the first time can be daunting – for teens and their parents. To help ease that fear, many states have developed a graduated driver’s license (GDL). A GDL allows young drivers to develop good driving habits through three stages:  

  1. Learner’s permit, which requires up to 50 hours of driving with an experienced driver
  2. Intermediate license, which restricts nighttime driving and driving with other teens in the car
  3. Full license, which includes all driving privileges

Night driving restrictions

Nighttime driving equals high-risk driving. Besides fatigue, factors contributing to nighttime crashes include:

  • Inexperience with night driving (and driving in general)
  • Lower visibility, including the glare of oncoming headlights
  • Driving with teen passengers who cause distractions and may encourage risk-taking behaviors

In many states, restricted hours are in place in the early morning hours, such as between midnight and 6 a.m. Check in with your state’s DMV or BMV for specific laws around GDL restrictions. Depending on where you live, your teen may be able to get a restricted license that limits unsupervised night driving, if they’ve had a learner’s permit for at least six months. It’s also a good idea to set personal expectations with your teen about when they should and shouldn’t drive, and make them aware of the risks of nighttime driving.  

GDL Passenger restrictions

Passenger restrictions limit the number of passengers teen drivers may have in their vehicle. Why limit passengers? 

  • A decade’s worth of national travel data shows that fatal accidents increase by 30% when other teens are in the car1
  • Passengers may influence risk-taking behaviors
  • Alcohol and other drug use may be more likely to affect decision-making when one or more passengers are present

Graduated Driver’s License Levels

In many states, advancing to the next licensing level depends on having a violation-free driving record. Get familiar with your state‘s laws, available on the Governors Highway Safety Association's website. You may also include elements of a GDL in a parent / teen driving agreement.

Insurance terms, definitions and explanations are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in individual insurance contracts, policies or declaration pages, which are controlling. Such terms and availability may vary by state and exclusions may apply.