Licensing & State Laws

To get your driver’s license in New Hampshire, you’ll move through three licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.

Pre-Licensure Driving

At age 15 ½, you may practice driving when accompanied by a licensed driver who is seated in the front beside you. The licensed driver must be 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.

Now is a good time to set up a parent-teen driving agreement to help you and your parents establish expectations related to both their rules and the laws in your state.

Youth Operator License

At age 16, you can apply for a youth operator’s license if you have successfully completed the required driver education program and completed 40 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night. You must visit a 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. You must also pass a vision, written and road test.

With a youth operator’s license, you may not drive between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. During the first 6 months of licensure, you 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, you are eligible for a full unrestricted license. The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses.

The New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles (NH DMV) is in charge of licensing for all drivers in the state. The NH DMV conducts the written exam and road test needed to get a driver’s license and also provides study materials to help you get ready for the exams. The NH DMV also keeps track of your license status and can suspend your license if you get too many tickets, don’t keep insurance on your car or commit other violations.

Your parents will do most of the rule setting and enforcement as you learn to drive. But state and local police are involved, too.

Police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. By enforcing traffic laws and requirements on seat belt use, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and teen licensing laws, police keep everyone on the road safer. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.

  • If pulled over by the police, expect to present your driver’s license, the vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
  • If stopped as a driver or passenger, always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
  • If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, talk to your parents about it immediately afterward.

If you get a ticket or are involved in a crash, you may need to appear in court, whether you believe you were at fault or not. This is serious stuff: Judges often assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses.

Police and courts are there when things go wrong. You and your parents can help keep things right.

  • Use a parent-teen driving agreement.
  • Keep your parents in the know about who you ride with.
  • Let your parents know when and where you’re headed.