How old do you have to be to drive?

How old do you have to be to drive? A person can be as young as 14 years old to drive legally in some states in America. How old you have to be drive varies across the United States. All teen drivers and new adult drivers must get a learner's permit before obtaining a restricted or full driver's license. The minimum age to get a restricted driver's license is 15 in some areas and 16 in others.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and ...

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Jan 14, 2022

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Can't-Miss Facts

  • Alaska has the lowest age limit for a driver’s permit
  • The minimum legal age to drive with a learners permit is 14 years old
  • Teens with a driver’s permit or restricted driver’s license are under strict guidelines
  • A full driver’s license can be issued to teens who are 16 to 18
  • Specific conditions must be met before a teen receives a full driver’s license
  • State laws surrounding drivers licenses vary

How old do you have to be to drive? How old do you have to be to get a driver’s license? At what age can you get your permit? The answers to those questions are different for each state in America. Before you ask your parents or guardians about learning how to drive, there are a few things you should know.

Or perhaps you’re a concerned parent or legal guardian who is researching when it’s acceptable for teens to drive a car. Don’t worry — we’re here to help.

Our guide has everything you need to know about the age requirements to drive a vehicle. Also, we’ll explain why auto insurance rates are more expensive for teens.

Continue reading to learn how old you have to be to drive in each state. If you’re ready to start comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies in your area, enter your ZIP code in the free online quote tool above.

How old do you have to be to drive?

The average age that teens are allowed to drive is 15 years old. However, some states have the minimum age for a learners permit as 14.

But there are restrictions. Parents and legal guardians must have a driver-training schedule, and teen drivers must obtain a learner’s permit.

Teens with a learner’s permit are restricted to a few hours of driving. Although laws for the learner’s permit vary for each state, a person with a learner’s permit cannot drive without having a fully licensed adult who meets certain standards in the car to supervise.

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Can you get your license at 16?

Yes, you typically can. But it depends on the state. The legal age for a full driver’s license can be as young as 16 in some states. The most common minimum age for a fully licensed driver is between 16 and 18.

Can you get your permit at 14?

In some states, you can get your permit at 14. Here is a list of states that allow teens to get their learner’s permit at 14.

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota

All other states have a learner’s permit age requirement of 15 or 16. Regardless of age, drivers with a learner’s permit (even adults) don’t have legal and full access to driving privileges.

What is the driving age for each state?

Let’s see the minimum driving age for each state in the nation.

Driving Age By State
StateMinimum Learner's Permit AgeMinimum Restricted License AgeMinimum Full License AgeCar Rental Age Requirement
Alaska141616, 6 mos.21
Arizona15, 6 mos.1616, 6 mos.20
California15, 6 mos.161720
Connecticut1616, 4 mos.1820
Delaware1616, 6 mos.1721
District of Columbia1616, 6 mos.18N/A
Hawaii15, 6 mos.161720
Idaho14, 6 mos.151620
Indiana1516, 3 mos.1820
Kansas141616, 6 mos.20
Kentucky1616, 6 mos.1720
Maine151616, 9 mos.20
Maryland15, 9 mos.16, 6 mos.1820
Massachusetts1616, 6 mos.1820
Michigan14, 9 mos.161720
Montana14, 6 mos.151621
Nevada15, 6 mos.161820
New Hampshire15, 6 mos.1617, 1 mos.20
New Jersey16171820
New Mexico1515, 6 mos.16, 6 mos.20
New York1616, 6 mos.1820
North Carolina151616, 6 mos.20
North Dakota14151621
Ohio15, 6 mos.161820
Oklahoma15, 6 mos.161720
Pennsylvania1616, 6 mos.1820
Rhode Island1616, 6 mos.17, 6 mos.20
South Carolina1515, 6 mos.16, 6 mos.20
South Dakota1414, 6 mos.1621
Vermont151616, 6 mos.20
Virginia15, 6 mos.161820
West Virginia15161720
Wisconsin15, 6 mos.1616, 9 mos.20
Wyoming151616, 6 mos.20
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We’ve also included the minimum age for drivers who want to rent a car. Overall, 17 and 18 are the minimum ages for most drivers to carry a full driver’s license.

It’s not uncommon for teens as young as 16 to get a driver’s license in some states. But parents and legal guardians should establish some ground rules regardless of a teen’s driving status.

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What are the specific restrictions for drivers with a learner’s permit?

The learner’s permit is the training stage for young teen drivers and adults learning to drive. Because these drivers are beginners, some states insist that drivers practice operating a motor vehicle with a licensed driver.

For parents and legal guardians who have a busy schedule, you can enroll your teen driver into a driver’s education program at their school or from a third-party company.

Adult drivers can also enroll in driver training courses.

With a learner’s permit, you’ll need a specific number of hours of daytime driving and night driving. Also, drivers with a learner’s permit are restricted to a few hours of driving.

All rules for learner’s permit drivers depend on the state where they live.

What are the rules for a restricted driver’s license?

A person with a restricted driver’s license has few more privileges than a person with a learner’s permit. Although a restricted driver’s license has a night-driving rule, a restricted driver’s license allows the driver to have passengers.

Some states limit drivers with a restricted license to a few passengers. If one of those passengers is a fully licensed driver, the restrictions won’t apply.

Restrictions are also lifted for drivers who work at night.

Drivers with a restricted driver’s license must hold the license for at least a year before they can get a full driver’s license. But conditions vary for each state.

What’s the difference between a learner’s permit and a driver’s license?

A learner’s permit is obtained after passing a written or online test. The driver’s license is more performance based.

Also, the rules for a learner’s permit are highly restrictive. The driver is limited to select hours on the road with a qualified licensed adult.

A driver’s license expands your driving privileges and provides more freedom to travel.

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Why is auto insurance so expensive for teen drivers?

Teen drivers, regardless of gender, are high-risk drivers. Even under a parent or legal guardian’s car insurance policy, teen drivers increase monthly rates.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatal car crashes are the second leading cause of death for teens in the United States.

Auto insurance companies offset the risk of teen drivers by raising insurance rates. If you want to find the best deal for you and your teen driver(s), compare auto insurance at the best companies.

Here are estimates from the top car insurance companies in America.

Monthly Auto Insurance Rates by Company and Driver's Age
CompaniesAuto Insurance Rates Based on a Clean Driving RecordAuto Insurance Rates with a Young Adult Driver (20 to 24)Auto Insurance Rates with a Teen Driver (16-19)
American Family$224$269$292
Liberty Mutual$398$477$517
State Farm$235$282$306
**National Average**$260$312$338

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Are these insurance rates too expensive? Don’t worry — your rates will vary. You can also save money when you qualify for car insurance discounts.

Is auto insurance for new drivers more expensive than average?

Yes, it is. New drivers may be adults, but they don’t have the experience of other drivers. Also, a driver without an insurance history may encounter more expensive car insurance rates.

Therefore, monthly auto insurance rates for new drivers are about $300 or more. But car insurance discounts can bring those rates down by hundreds of dollars.

How old do you have to be to drive: The Bottom Line

The minimum age to drive a motor vehicle depends on the state. While the youngest age to hold a permit is 14 years old in some states, parents and legal guardians may start teaching their children to drive around 16.

If you do allow your child to drive, it’s going to be expensive to insure them. However, you can lower the price of car insurance for your teen driver by asking for any applicable discounts. Most insurance companies offer a discount if your teen earns good grades in school.

Now that you know how old you have to be to drive, use our free online quote tool to compare multiple insurance companies near you.

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