Teen Drivers

Getting a learner’s permit and driver’s license are rites of passage for many teenagers.  Parents need to know the law as it pertains to their teen drivers.

Children generally can get their instruction permit when they’re 15 ½ years old.  If the child’s parents are married to each other, usually only one parent needs to sign their child’s permit application.  If the child’s parents are divorced and both parents have custody, both parents must sign their child’s permit application. The child must pass a written test and a vision exam to get their permit.  When the child is driving, a licensed driver at least 21 years old must sit in the front passenger seat.  Children generally can apply for their driver’s license when they turn 16, provided that they have had their permit for six months and completed at least 30 hours of supervised driving practice, with at least 10 of those hours occurring at night.

Teen drivers first get a Class G (Graduated) driver license, which has certain restrictions.  For example, absent certain circumstances, for the first six months, a teen driver can’t drive between midnight and 5:00 a.m. unless (1) their parent or legal guardian, who has their license, is in the front seat next to them or (2) they’re driving to/from a sanctioned school or religious activity or their place of employment.  Also, for the first six months, a teen driver can’t drive more than one passenger under 18 unless the passengers are their siblings or their parent or legal guardian, who has a license, is in the front seat next to them.  Teen drivers generally are eligible for a Class D driver license when they turn 18.

Parents may wonder, “Can I be held liable if my child causes an accident?”  In 2011, the Arizona Supreme Court confirmed that parents can be held liable for their minor children’s negligent driving, even if their child disobeyed them and drove the car for an unauthorized use (for example, driving their friends home without their parents’ permission).  Young v. Beck, 227 Ariz. 1, 251 P.3d 380 (2011).  For this reason (and others), it’s important to discuss your family’s automobile insurance needs with your insurance agent.

If you have any questions about the law as it pertains to your teen drivers, please call us at (623)551-9366 to schedule a consultation.

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