Licensing & State Laws

New Jersey’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 special learner’s permit and probationary stages are key steps.

Special Learner’s Permit or Examination Permit

At age 16, teens may apply for a special learner’s permit in the state of New Jersey. Teens and their parent or guardian need to visit the local Motor Vehicle Commission office and bring required identification documents and proof of enrollment in a driver training course. Teens age 17 may apply for an examination permit without proof of enrollment in a driver training course. Teens must pass the written driver’s knowledge test and a vision test to receive a special learner’s permit or examination permit.

Upon completion of a driver training course, teens with a special learner’s permit may begin practice driving only when accompanied in the front seat by a driver age 21 or older who has been licensed in New Jersey for at least 3 years. Teens with an examination permit may begin practicing driving without completing a driver training course. Teens that are practicing driving are required to display the GDL decal in the vehicle. Teens may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (some exemptions granted). No more than one passenger other than parents, guardians and the permit holder’s dependents are allowed (in addition to the supervising driver). Teen drivers and all passengers are required to wear seat belts. In New Jersey, special learner’s permit, examination permit, and probationary license holders are banned from using any kind of wireless communication device while driving, including all handheld and hands-free cell phones and text messaging devices.

Probationary License

At age 17, teens that have held a special learner’s permit and been eligible for practice driving for at least 6 months without a suspension or postponement may apply for the probationary license. Examination permit holders may apply at age 18. To obtain the probationary license, teens must visit the Motor Vehicle Commission office and bring required identification documents. Once your teen passes a road test, a probationary license will be issued.

A probationary licensee may drive unsupervised, but must follow certain restrictions. The teen may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (some exceptions granted). Unless the probationary licensee is accompanied by a supervising parent or guardian, no more than one additional passenger (including siblings) is allowed besides parents, guardians, and dependents of the permit holder. Teens are required to display the GDL decal in the vehicle. Teen drivers and all passengers are required to wear seat belts. In New Jersey, special learner’s permit, examination permit, and probationary license holders are banned from using any kind of wireless communication device while driving, including all handheld and hands-free cell phones and text messaging devices.

Full License

Teens that have held a probationary license for one year without any suspensions or postponements and are at least 18 may apply for a full driver license. Teens must visit their local Motor Vehicle Commission office and bring their probationary license and the required identification documents.

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.

Visit the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for more information.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is the licensing authority in the state. The MVC 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.

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.