1. Teens Can’t Get A Full License Until Age 18
California utilizes a multi-stage licensing process for teenagers. When teens are 15 1/2 years old, they may apply for a provisional permit. Once the permit is obtained, teens may practice driving with an adult 25 years or older who has a valid California driver’s license. Once teens have practiced driving for 50 hours and at least six months, they can obtain a provisional license at 16. A provisional license has certain restrictions, however, which will be discussed in greater detail below.
2. They Can’t Use Their Cell Phones
Drivers in California over the age of 18 are permitted to use cell phones while driving with hands-free technology only. This is a restriction that is becoming more common as states work to curb the dangers of cell phone use while driving. However, the rules are stricter for teen drivers. Teenage drivers in California (defined as drivers under 18 years old) are not allowed to use cell phones in any capacity while driving. This includes usage with hands-free technology. It also means any usage: not just making calls but also texting and using apps. You should teach your teen the dangers of phone use while driving and ensure he or she knows the rules. The exception to this rule is during a valid emergency.
3. They Can’t Drive At Certain Times Of The Day
Teenagers with a provisional license are not permitted to drive between the hours 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first twelve months. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. The law allows teens to drive during these times in the case of medical or other necessity if no other reliable transportation is available. Teens can also drive during this time if it is necessary for employment (although it is important to note no one under the age of 18 in California is permitted to work as a driver). For all of these cases, teens must have a valid note from a medical professional, employer or legal guardian. Emancipated minors do not need this documentation. It is also important to note that individual cities may have their own curfew restrictions teens must adhere to.
4. They Can’t Transport Young Passengers
Although obtaining a provisional license at 16 means teens can generally drive alone, there is one important exception. Teen drivers in California are not permitted to transport passengers who are under the age of 20. This includes friends, siblings, cousins and anyone else under the age of 20 unless an adult over the age of 25 with a valid California driver’s license is accompanying them. With this in mind, it is important for parents of teen drivers to make themselves available if their child needs or wants to drive friends to places. Once twelve months have passed, this restriction is lifted, although the state encourages parents to set their own rules.
5. Seatbelts Are Necessary
California requires that everyone in a motor vehicle wear seatbelts at all times. This rule applies to everyone, not just teens. Parents should teach their teens the importance of safety belts and ensuring everyone in the vehicle is wearing proper restraints before setting out. Teens should refuse to begin driving until everyone is buckled up, in spite of any possible peer pressure. Most fatalities on the road are because seatbelts were not in use, and risking lives over something so simple is not worth it.
Parents need to understand the rules governing California’s roads and teen drivers so their child learns how to drive properly and safely. Laws governing teen and other drivers do change occasionally so remain informed. Work with your teen to ensure he or she gets started out driving on the right foot.