Licensing & State Laws
Delaware’s Graduated Driver Licensing program allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time. The Level One Learner’s Permit is a key step.
Level One Learner’s Permit
When your teen turns 16 and has completed a certified Delaware Driver Education Course, the teen may apply for a Level One Learner’s Permit. You and your teen need to visit a Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles office, bring a state-certified copy of the teen’s birth certificate and the teen’s Delaware Driver Education Certificate (the “blue” certificate). Once you give authorization, pay the license fee and your teen passes a vision test, the teen will be given a Level One Learner’s Permit.
A Level One Learner’s Permit lets your teen drive only with a licensed driver age 25 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. Your teen must hold this learner’s permit for at least 6 months and complete at least 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, before advancing to the next stage.
At age 16 and 6 months, your teen is allowed to drive without an adult supervisor if the teen has held a Level One Learner’s Permit for 6 months. You must also certify your teen’s practice driving and submit the records to the Delaware Department of Education.
Your teen may then drive without a supervisor, but must follow certain rules to stay safe. Delaware does not allow teens with a Level One Learner’s Permit to drive between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.—some of the riskiest driving hours for all drivers and especially teens. Exceptions are granted for travel directly to and from work, school and church activities. Delaware teens also may not drive with more than one non-family passenger under age 18.Your teen and all passengers must wear seat belts.
At age 17, your teen is eligible for a full unrestricted license if the teen has held the Level One Learner’s Permit for at least one year and satisfied all requirements. If your teen has not completed driver education, your teen cannot begin the process to obtain a driver’s license until age 18.
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.
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.
- If stopped by the police, teens should present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- Whether 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, depending on the type of violation.