Driving a vehicle alone is dangerous when you are still inexperienced, as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. According to CDCP, in 2019, 2,400 teens got killed in car accidents. In that regard, can you drive by yourself with a permit?
Even if you have a permit, you cannot drive alone. You need to be accompanied by a licensed adult who has to be sitting in the passenger’s seat at the front. However, in some states, you can only drive alone in emergencies. You can be fined if caught driving alone with a permit, and it will take longer to acquire your driver’s license.
Even if you are driving your way to work, you can’t drive alone unless a licensed adult accompanies you. So, even if you have a permit, the law requires you to be accompanied by an adult licensed driver whenever you drive a car. They could be your parent, a driving instructor, or a legal guardian who the local Department of Motor Vehicles duly licenses.
Read on to learn if the law allows you to drive alone with a permit, the restrictions, and the penalties.
Can You Drive by Yourself With a Permit?
Driving a vehicle carries with it heavy responsibilities. If you have not yet built enough driving experience, even if you know how to drive, you can present a danger to others and yourself. Driving is dangerous if you don’t have enough skill and experience.
That’s why, as an inexperienced driver, who only has a permit to drive, you need to be accompanied by a licensed adult whenever you want to drive your car. That is what the law requires, for your good and also for the good of others.
Some states allow a driver with a permit to drive their cars – but only in emergencies. A police officer may fine you if he catches you driving alone with only a permit to show. Getting your driver’s license may also take a long time.
The minimum age to drive in the United States varies from state to state. Can you drive by yourself with a permit at 16? There are 16 states where the minimum driving age is 16 years old.
Other states have a minimum age requirement of 18 years old. But in North and South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, and Alaska, the minimum age requirement is only 14 years old.
Learner Permit Restrictions
There are certain restrictions to the permit that you are holding. Even then, the law is not too harsh either. Some states allow you to drive alone during a medical emergency:
For instance, in California, although you are required to have an adult licensed driver every time you drive, you can drive yourself to the hospital alone if you are under a medical emergency.
In Colorado, a Graduated Driver’s Licensing program is being followed. This program gives certain driving privileges to teen drivers as they gain more knowledge and experience driving their vehicles.
What are the typical driving restrictions of a permit in Colorado?
- Driving alone is not allowed. You must be accompanied by a parent, a driving instructor, a legal guardian, a licensed driver, and at least 21 years old every time you drive your vehicle.
- You are not allowed to use your cell phone while driving.
- You are to wear your seatbelts every time you drive. This is also required for your passengers. Seat belt sharing is prohibited.
New York City
There are also certain restrictions for inexperienced drivers in New York City with only driving permits. These include the following:
- You cannot drive alone on any street in NYC.
- You cannot drive alone on the Saw Mill River, Hutchinson River, Taconic State parkways, or Cross County in Westchester County.
- You cannot drive alone on any tunnel or bridge under the jurisdiction of the Tri-borough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.
- You cannot drive alone in a DMV road test area.
When driving your car in the United States with only a permit to drive, you have to keep these things in mind, always:
- You need to have a licensed driver sitting in the front passenger seat.
- In all 50 states, it is illegal to drive alone using only a learner’s permit.
- Most states also restrict the number of passengers you can carry if you use a driving permit.
What’s the Reason for All These Permit Restrictions?
The restrictions are not just because the authorities (DMV) want to curtail your driving freedom. Contrary to what many people assume, teens don’t figure in car crashes because they are texting or not paying attention to road situations and conditions.
Statistics show that more than 3,200 fatal vehicle crashes involve minors under 20 years old. A researcher from the University of Michigan, Jean Shope, believes that most of these tragic accidents can be due to the developing teen brain.
According to this researcher, if parents want their teens to learn how to drive safely while they’re still young, they need to understand that there are still developmental issues in their brains.
In other words, teens’ reaction time might not be as quick as the reaction of adults. Parents should expect their teens to make mistakes. However, mistakes should not stop them.
Their teens need to continue learning how to drive. That’s the only way they can gain that much-needed experience so they will turn out good drivers.
Can You Drive to School with a Permit at 18?
Can you drive by yourself with a permit over 18 to your school? No, you can’t drive alone to school with just your driver’s permit. You must have a licensed adult, such as your parent, legal guardian, or driving instructor. Additionally, they should be at least 21 years old.
The same rule applies if you are driving to work. You still should be accompanied by an adult driver. And they must sit on the front passenger seat, not in the rear passenger seat.
In short, you can drive your car with a permit if an adult licensed driver is always with you. Just be patient because this is for your good. You still don’t have enough skill and experience to drive alone.
There are a lot of decisions you have to make every time you drive. You must be very attentive to all the situations you are driving on the road.
There are so many things to learn before you can safely drive alone on the road without causing any danger or damage to yourself, other motorists, and pedestrians.
When Can You Drive Alone With a Permit?
In California, if you are 15 and a half years old with a driver’s permit, the law requires you to accomplish the following things before you can drive alone:
- Individuals must complete at least six hours of driving with a California state-approved driving instructor.
- Complete California’s Driver’s Educational Course.
- Must have at least 10-hour actual night driving accompanied by a licensed adult driver.
- 50-hour driving practice with a licensed adult or parent.
If you are already 16 years old, you must hold a provisional license for at least six months. Then your parents have to go with you to your local DMV. They will have to sign (under perjury) a form signifying that they have completed this state’s minimum requirement.
Once you have accomplished all these, you can drive your car to school alone, with certain restrictions.
You can’t still drive alone between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. If you are still a minor, you can’t have passengers in your car under 20 years old – unless you have a passenger at least 25 years old.
You must follow these restrictions until you are 18 and with full driving privileges.
Again, can you drive by yourself with a permit? If you only have a learner’s permit, you can’t drive alone in NYC unless you have a supervising driver.
What Happens If an Officer Caught You Driving Alone?
It is illegal in the United States to drive alone if you only hold a driver’s permit. All police officers will consider your offense as driving without a license with only a driver’s permit.
The officer can write down a citation, or they can impose other penalties prescribed by the laws in your state.
Some states consider driving alone with only a driver’s permit as a driving infraction, which could delay the release of your driver’s license.
And worse, if you figure in an accident while driving alone with only a permit, in addition to the fine and delayed release of your license, you may have to shoulder all the expenses related to the accident. No insurance company will cover the accident since you hold a driver’s permit.
For parents who are California residents, who allow or who don’t know that their teens drive alone using only a permit, Los Angeles car insurance companies may not cover the damages resulting in an accident.
Most states also require vehicle owners to have liability car insurance. However, this type of insurance only covers injuries and damages to others. It does not cover damages to your vehicle.
What Are the Rules for Driving with a Permit?
Accompanied by a Licensed Driver at Least 21 Years Old
Every state in the Union requires learners with driver’s permits to be accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years old every time they drive their vehicles.
The objective of this rule is for learners to have experienced drivers to guide them so they can drive safely and pass their driver’s tests.
Accompanying Adult Must Have One to Five Years of Driving Experience
Aside from the requirement of adult licensed drivers, some states also require the accompanying drivers to have minimum years of driving experience. Some states are more relaxed than others requiring only one year of driving experience, while others require five years.
Minimum Age for Licensed Accompanying Adult
For instance, In Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana, licensed drivers only 18 years old can accompany learners with a driver’s permit. They are stricter in Maine because they only allow at least 20-year-old licensed drivers to accompany learners with driver’s permits.
Other states require the accompanying drivers to be at least 25 years old. These states include the following:
- Delaware, and
Accompanying Driver Must Be the Driver’s Parent or Guardian
In other states, the accompanying driver should be a parent or a legal guardian. These states include Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Passengers Must Be Family
Most states also restrict the number of passengers a learner with only a driver’s permit can carry. In some states, learners can only have family members as passengers. This is to mitigate injuries from car crashes.
Frequently Asked Questions
This topic might have raised many questions in your mind. Perhaps one of the answers enumerated below will help clear up your mind.
Here are the answers to the most often asked questions about this topic:
Can I Drive Alone with Just a Driver’s Permit?
Unfortunately, no, you can’t. All states in the Union do not allow you to drive alone, holding only a driver’s permit. Since you are still an inexperienced driver, you are considered dangerous if you drive alone. You still have to gain knowledge, skill, and experience to be allowed to drive on your own.
What Are the Requirements for a Learner Who Holds a Driver’s Permit?
If you hold a driver’s permit, you must be accompanied by an adult licensed driver if you want to drive a car. The licensed driver must sit in the front passenger’s seat. If you are caught driving alone, you can be fined. Plus, they will delay the release of your license.
Why Can’t I Drive Alone with Only a Driver’s Permit?
Driving is a privilege. Only those who are qualified are allowed to drive. To qualify, you must satisfy the requirements of the law. The law requires you to be at least of legal age before being given a driver’s license.
But before that, you have to satisfy all the requirements for a full driver’s license. In California, the requirements include:
- Individuals must complete at least 6 hours of driving with a California state-approved driving instructor.
- Completion of California’s Driver’s Educational Course.
- At least 10-hour actual night driving accompanied by a licensed adult driver.
- 50-hour driving practice with a licensed adult or parent.
You will be given your full driver’s license after completing all these requirements and passing the driver’s test. Only then can you drive alone. And there are still some restrictions to that. You have to consult the laws of your state regarding the other limits.
In Closing: Can You Drive Around Alone with a Permit?
The law does not allow you to drive alone, even if you have a permit. You must have a licensed adult sitting on the front passenger seat, accompanying you. However, certain states allow you to drive alone in emergencies.
You can be fined if caught driving alone, only holding a permit. It will also take you longer to acquire your full driver’s license. Even if you are driving to work, you are not allowed to drive alone. The adult licensed driver can be your parent, a driving instructor, or a legal guardian.