Licensing & State Laws
Even though your teen is now licensed and driving alone, Texas’ multi-stage licensing process is still at work.
At age 15, teens can apply for a learner license in the state of Texas. To do so, both teen and parent must visit their local driver exam office, bring a state-certified copy of the teen’s birth certificate, or a valid United States passport, and show proof of social security number name and age. Acceptable documents showing full name and date of birth include certificates of birth, passports, military IDs and Immigration and Naturalization Service documents. Teens must pass a written driver’s knowledge test, a sign recognition test and a vision test to receive a learner license. In addition, the teen must be enrolled in driver education.
With a learner license, teens may only drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. Teens are required to practice driving for at least 30 hours, including 10 hours at night, with a parent or a legal guardian, before they’re allowed a provisional license.
When teens turn 16, and have had a learner license for at least 6 months and have completed 30 hours of practice driving (including 10 hours at night), they can apply for this provisional license. They also must pass a behind-the-wheel driving test and complete a state-certified driver’s education course and possess the classroom and behind the wheel certificates. Legal guardians must accompany their teens to the appropriate agency to sign the application form.
A teen with a provisional license is allowed to drive alone, but must follow certain restrictions. They may transport no more than one person under age 21 who is not a family member. With a provisional license, they may drive between midnight and 5 a.m. only when accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian unless driving to/from employment, driving to/from a school-authorized activity or for a medical emergency. Teens under age 18 may not use electronic communications devices while driving and all passengers are required to wear seat belts. Additionally, all teen drivers under age 21 are required to abide by Texas’ ZERO tolerance law which prohibits any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood stream.
At age 18 teens who have successfully completed the provisional license phase are eligible for an unrestricted license. All original licenses, other than a learner license, issued to persons under 18 years of age will be marked “Provisional.” The license will be vertical and will be dated to expire on the applicant’s 18th birthday or next birthday occurring after the date of issuance.
A parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce the 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 Texas Department of Public Safety is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Texas. Find the office nearest you.
- Your teen should expect to present a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of auto insurance.
- Explain to your teen that it is important to always cooperate and be respectful when speaking with law enforcement.
- Make sure your teen understands the importance of talking to you about any encounters with law enforcement, because it can create a learning experience.
- Suspended driving privileges
- Attorney’s fees
- Court costs
- Insurance premium increases