Licensing & State Laws

Maryland’s multi-stage licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time. The learner’s permit and provisional license stages are key steps.

Learner’s Permit

At age 15 and 9 months, teens can apply for a learner’s permit in the state of Maryland. To do so the teen must visit a full service Motor Vehicle Administration Office, accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The parent or legal guardian must cosign the minor’s application. Teens under the age of 16 must submit a completed Learner’s Permit School Attendance Certification form. Teens must pass a written driver’s knowledge test and a vision test to receive a learner’s permit.

Teens with a learner’s permit may drive when accompanied by a licensed driver, 21 years or older, who has at least 3 years of driving experience sitting in the front seat. Teens with learner’s permits must obtain at least 60 hours of certified practice driving, including at least 10 hours at night. A practice driving skills log must be signed and submitted to the MVA. Learner’s permit holders must hold the learner’s permit for a minimum of nine months, maintain a conviction-free driving record during this time period, and complete a standardized driver education course before becoming eligible for a provisional license.

Provisional License

At age 16 years and 6 months, teens who have held a learner’s permit for 9 months, maintained a conviction-free driving record and completed a standardized driver education course are eligible for a provisional license. Applicants must submit a completed and signed practice skills log documenting a minimum of 60 hours of supervised driving (including 10 hours at night), and pass a driving skills test administered either in traffic or on a course.

Provisional license holders are allowed to drive unsupervised between 5 a.m. and midnight. They may only drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless driving for employment, school activities, volunteer programs or athletic events/training. During the first 5 months of the provisional period, drivers are not allowed to have passengers under age 18, unless the passengers are direct family members or relatives living at the driver’s address. Drivers are exempt from the night and passenger limits if accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older who has 3 years of experience. Provisional license must be held for a minimum of 18 consecutive months without a violation before converting to a full license. Provisional license holders under 18 and all their passengers must use seat belts or other proper restraints. Drivers under age 18 may not use cell phones (handheld or hands-free) while driving.

Full License

At age 18, teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license if they have held their provisional license for a minimum of 18 months and have been conviction-free during that period. When provisional license holders successfully meet all requirements, the MVA automatically converts the license to a full driver’s license status. Maryland does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses. However, AAA encourages parents to maintain their own rules. Drivers under age 18 may not use cell phones (handheld or hands-free) while driving. Drivers of all ages are prohibited from texting, e-mailing or talking on a handheld phone while driving.

A parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Maryland. The MVA conducts the written exam and road test needed to obtain a driver’s license. It also provides study materials to help your teen get ready for the exams.

State and local police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. Remind your teen that police can and will enforce all requirements on seat belt use, drinking and driving and other laws. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties. Talk to your teen about these and other consequences, and explain what to do if stopped by police.

  • If stopped by the police, teens should expect to present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • If stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
  • If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.

If your teen gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance. Judges deal seriously and directly with teen traffic violations. They can assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses—even for a first offense.

In the State of Maryland convictions or “Probation Before Judgment” (PBJ) for moving violations while holding a provisional license will require the completion of a driver improvement program and/or the suspension/revocation of your driver’s license.  Convictions also restart the 18-month minimum waiting period. In addition to other sanctions applied by the courts, these Administrative sanctions listed below are also imposed:

  • 1st conviction – driver improvement classes
  • 2nd conviction – 30 day suspension of license
  • 3rd (or subsequent) conviction – 180 day suspension or revocation of license