Licensing & State Laws

New Hampshire’s licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time. The youth operator license stage is a key step.

Pre-Licensure Driving

At age 15 ½, teens may practice driving when being accompanied by a licensed driver occupying the seat beside them who is a certified driving instructor, parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult age 25 years or older. There is no actual learner’s permit or DMV application required.

Youth Operator License

At age 16, application for a youth operator’s license may be made if the person has successfully completed the required driver education program and has completed 40 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night. (Keep track of your teen’s practice driving.) Teens must visit their local driver exam office with an application signed by a parent or guardian, an original birth certificate, one other form of legal identification, proof-of-residence and Social Security number. Teens must also pass a vision, written and road test.

Teens with a youth operator license may not drive between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. During the first 6 months of licensure, teens are prohibited from driving with more than one passenger under age 25 (family members exempt) unless accompanied by a licensed responsible adult who is at least 25 years old.

Full License

At age 18, teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license. 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.

The New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles, is in charge of licensing for all drivers. The NH DMV conducts the written exam and road test needed to get a driver’s license. 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 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.