Licensing & State Laws
Kansas’ 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 instruction permit and restricted license stages are key steps.
As early as age 14, a teen may apply for either an instruction permit or a farm permit. You must make a written application with the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and your child must pass a vision and written exam.
With an instruction permit, a teen may drive only with a licensed driver age 21 or older who has held a valid driver’s license for at least a year, supervising and sitting in the front seat. No one else is allowed to ride in the front seat. Teens are required to practice supervised driving for at least 25 hours.
When a teen turns 15 and has held an instruction permit at least one year, the teen may apply for a restricted license. The teen must have completed an approved driver education course and at least 25 hours of supervised driving. (Teens age 16 and older do not have to have completed an approved driver education course to apply.) Parents or legal guardians must sign the application form.
A teen younger than 16 with a restricted license is allowed to drive alone but must follow certain age-based restrictions. The teen may not drive with any non-sibling passengers and may only drive to certain locations: to or from or in connection with any job or farm-related work, over the most direct and accessible route between home and school, and to attend religious activities. The teen may also drive to other locations when accompanied by a licensed adult driver age 21 or older in the front seat. Teens under age 16 with a restricted license also must complete an additional 25 hours of supervised driving (10 of the 50 hours total must be at night).
A teen that turns 16 may begin driving alone to other locations between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. At other times, the teen must be accompanied by a licensed adult driver age 21 or older in the front seat. Teens may not drive with more than one non-immediate family member passenger under age 18. Restricted license holders may not use a cell phone (handheld or hands-free) while driving. Drivers of all ages are prohibited from texting or e-mailing while driving.
At age 16½, if all prior requirements have been met and no infractions have occurred in the last 6 months, the above restrictions end and your teen can drive unrestricted. At age 17, a teen who has not completed the previous GDL stage may also apply for a full unrestricted license but must pass vision, written, and driving exams, provide proof of age and identification, and submit a proof of having completed at least 50 hours of practice driving, with at least 10 of those hours being at night, with a supervising adult age 21 or older. Drivers of all ages are prohibited from texting or e-mailing while driving. The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses. However, AAA encourages parents to maintain their own rules.
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.
At age 14, a teen residing on a farm (parcel of land larger than 20 acres used in agricultural operations) or employed for compensation on a farm may apply for a farm permit, which allows the teen to drive anytime to or from or in connection with any farm job or other farm-related work. A teen must pass written, vision and driving exams and submit the written application signed by a parent/guardian in order to obtain a farm permit.
Teens under age 16 with a farm permit may also drive only over the most direct and accessible route between home and school for the purpose of attendance or to and from religious activities. The teens may not drive with any non-sibling minor passengers. These restrictions do not apply when accompanied by an adult licensed driver age 21 or older. Farm permit holders may not use a cell phone (handheld or hands-free) while driving. Drivers of all ages are prohibited from texting or e-mailing while driving.
Teens age 16 and older with a farm permit may drive to any location unsupervised between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. The teens may not drive with more than one non-immediate family member passenger under age 18. At age 16½, if all prior requirements have been met and no infractions have occurred in the previous 6 months, all restrictions on the farm permit holder end.
The Kansas Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles, is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Kansas. The KDOR DMV conducts the written exam and road test needed to get a driver’s license, and accepts all driver education completion certificates as required by law. It also provides study materials to help your teen get ready for the exams.
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 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.
A cooperative effort sponsored by AAA Kansas and the Kansas Department of Transportation to increase restraint compliance through positive rewards and strong enforcement messages.
Kansas seatbelt facts:
- If the driver is belted … the child is belted 92% of the time.
- If the driver is NOT belted … the child is belted only 23% of the time.
“Recently, I was dispatched to the scene of a rollover crash with one occupant. The vehicle was still resting on its top when I arrived. The driver was sitting alongside the roadway being helped by a passerby. I could see obvious injuries to her arm as there was blood around the elbow and hand. I recognized her as a 17-year-old who attends high school with my daughter. I asked, ‘Were you wearing your seatbelt?’ She looked at me and said, ‘You know I was, Sandy, I attended your Seatbelts are For Everyone class.’ I followed the ambulance to the hospital and waited until her mom arrived. Mom told me she always wears her seatbelt now, and she makes sure everybody else does, too. Had she not been wearing her seatbelt, this teen would have suffered serious injuries or died.”
— Sheriff Sandy Horton, Crawford County, Kansas
The SAFE program is expanding to high schools in other Kansas counties. Find out more about a SAFE event near you.