Licensing & State Laws
Even though your teen is now licensed and driving alone, Utah’s three-stage licensing process is still at work.
When teens turn 15, they may apply for a learner’s permit. The teen and parent or guardian need to visit the local driver exam office and bring a state-certified copy of the teen’s birth certificate, Social Security card, and Utah residency verification. Once the teen passes the written driver’s knowledge test, physical and vision tests, the teen will be given a learner’s permit.
A learner’s permit lets teens drive only with a licensed, approved driving instructor, parent or legal guardian, supervising and sitting in the front seat. The learner’s permit allows teens to practice driving with an approved driving instructor, parent or legal guardian. The teen and a parent/guardian must log at least 40 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours at night. Keep track of your practice driving.
When your teen turns 16, has had a learner’s permit for at least six months, and has completed an approved driver education course, the teen can go to the local licensing office to take the driving test. A parent or legal guardian will need to sign for financial responsibility and must also sign off that the 40 hours of practice driving have been completed. Once the teen has done this, the teen can receive the intermediate license.
Teens are allowed to drive without a parent, but must follow certain rules to help keep them safe. Utah restricts driving between midnight and 5 a.m. for new drivers until age 17 — some of the riskiest driving hours for all drivers and especially teens. There are exemptions for employment and agricultural work. Teens who travel in a school bus from a school-sponsored event and arrive at the school after midnight are permitted to drive from the school directly to their home. During the first six months your teen holds an intermediate license, your teen cannot have a passenger under age 18 who isn’t an immediate family member. There are exemptions for emergencies and agricultural work, and if the teen is driving with a licensed adult over the age of 21 in the front seat. Your teen and all passengers must wear seat belts while driving.
At age 17, teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license if they have held their intermediate license for at least six months.
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 Utah Department of Public Safety, through its Driver License Division, is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Utah. The agency tracks status and can suspend a license if a teen gets too many tickets, doesn’t keep insurance or commits other violations.
- 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
The consequences of a drinking and driving offense are particularly severe for drivers under age 21. AAA encourages you to know the serious consequences of DUI offenses by knowing the law. This information is subject to periodic legislative updates.
Utah has a “zero tolerance law” that says it’s illegal for drivers under 21 to have any measurable alcohol in their blood. Consequences for a DUI arrest can include:
- A first offense DUI arrest for a teen brings a one year driver license suspension. For a second or subsequent violation, the suspension is two years.
- Up to $12,000 in fines, fees, penalties.
- 48 hours jail time and up to 6-months if convicted
- 10 years on driving record
- Up to $1,500 annual auto insurance increase
- Up to $2,500 for an ignition interlock device for 3 years. Ignition interlock requires drivers to blow in devices that prevent them from starting the vehicle if there is alcohol on their breath.
- Two hours in handcuffs
- Screening, assessment, educational or alcohol treatment programs