Driving Laws for Teens in Florida: What Parents Should Know

Congratulations! Your teen is growing up, and one of the milestones they’re likely looking forward to is getting their driver’s license. However, earning the privilege of driving comes with a great deal of responsibility, and as a parent in Florida, it’s crucial to understand the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. These laws are in place to ensure your teen gains experience behind the wheel in a safe and controlled manner.

In this blog, a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer shares what you need to know about driving laws for teens, including the different stages of the GDL program, key restrictions, and offers practical tips to help your teen become a safe and confident driver.

Florida’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program

Florida’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program acts as a stepping stone for teens, allowing them to gain experience behind the wheel in a controlled environment before they hit the road solo. These laws set limitations and restrictions for new drivers between the ages of 15 and 17. Here’s a summary of what you need to know. For a detailed list of requirements, go here.

Florida Learner’s Permit Stage (Age 15+)

The first step on the road to licensure is obtaining a learner’s permit.

  • Requirements: To qualify, your teen must be at least 15 years old, pass a vision, hearing and knowledge test, and complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education course. If under 18 years old, must have a notarized parental consent form.
  • Daytime Driving Restrictions: For the first three months after the learner’s permit is issued, driving is only permitted during daylight hours, which extend until 10:00 pm. After three months, teen drivers with a learner’s permit can operate a vehicle until 11:00 pm.
  • Restrictions: Learner’s permit holders can only drive with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older in the passenger seat at all times. This supervising driver must have a valid driver’s license for at least one year and a clean driving record. 

Florida License Stage (Age 16+)

Once your teen has held their learner’s permit for at least one year and maintains a clean driving record, they can apply for a Florida driver’s license. Here’s a breakdown of the key requirements:

  • Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 16 years old.
  • Learner’s Permit Requirement: Teens must hold a learner’s permit for a minimum of 12 months, or until they turn 18, whichever comes first.
  • Supervised Driving Experience: A parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult over 21 must complete the Certification of Minor Driving Experience Form. This form verifies that the teen has completed at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, with 10 hours occurring at night.  You can use this Practice Log Sheet to track these driving hours.
  • Clean Driving Record: Teens cannot have any moving violation convictions on their record within one year from the date their learner’s permit was issued.  One exception is allowed: a moving violation with adjudication withheld (meaning formal charges were not filed).
  • Passing the Driving Test: To obtain a license, teens must pass the Class E Driving Skills Test. This test evaluates their ability to safely operate a vehicle.
  • Vehicle Requirements: The vehicle used for the driving test must be properly registered and insured. The driver license examiner will also perform a basic inspection to ensure the vehicle is safe for testing.
  • Proof of Identity and Residency: Your teen must provide documentation that verifies their identity, Social Security number, and residential address. A list of acceptable documents can be found on the FLHSMV website

Even after obtaining a driver’s license, there are limitations on nighttime driving for teens under 18:

  • 16-year-old Drivers: Cannot drive between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am unless:
    • Driving to or from work
    • Accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years old or older
  • 17-year-old Drivers: Cannot drive between 1:00 am and 5:00 am unless:
    •  Driving to or from work
    • Accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years old or older

By fulfilling these requirements and demonstrating responsible driving habits, your teen can take the next step towards independent driving.

Important Rules for All Teen Drivers

In addition to the traffic laws that apply to all drivers, there are additional requirements specific to drivers under 18 in Florida. Here’s a breakdown of some key rules:

  • Clean Driving Record: Teen drivers must maintain a clean driving record for one year from the date their learner’s permit is issued. Any moving violation convictions during this period will extend the learner’s permit requirement by an additional year, or until they turn 18, whichever comes first.
  • School Attendance: Attending school is a requirement for obtaining and maintaining a driver’s license. If a teen falls out of compliance with school attendance, their driving privileges can be suspended or they may be denied a license until they can provide proof of attending school for 30 consecutive days.
  • Zero Tolerance for Underage Drinking: Florida has a strict zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. Any driver under 21 caught with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02% or higher will face immediate license suspension for six months. A second offense within a year results in a one-year suspension. Refusal to submit to a BAC test carries an even harsher penalty: a 12-month suspension for the first offense and 18 months for a second offense.
  • Accumulating Points: In Florida, points are assigned for traffic violations. If a teen driver accumulates six points within a 12-month period, their license will be restricted to “Business Purposes Only” for a year, or until they turn 18, whichever comes first.  Additional points received during this restricted period will extend the restriction for 90 days each.
  • Parental Control: The parent or guardian who signed the consent form for the learner’s permit has the authority to revoke driving privileges and cancel their teen’s license.
  • Tobacco Use: Minors caught with tobacco or nicotine products can face license consequences. A conviction for tobacco possession can lead to a minimum 30-day learner’s permit revocation. 

By understanding these additional rules, you can help your teen make responsible choices behind the wheel and avoid unnecessary license suspensions or delays.

Practical Tips for Teaching Your Teen to Drive

As your teen gains experience behind the wheel, here are some tips to help them become a safe and responsible driver:

  • Lead by Example: Your teen is constantly observing your driving habits. Make sure you always buckle up, avoid distractions, and follow the rules of the road.
  • Practice in Different Conditions: Don’t limit driving practice to sunny days. Take your teen out in rain, at night, and on highways to expose them to various driving scenarios.
  • Focus on Safe Driving Habits: Talk to your teen about the importance of defensive driving, maintaining a safe following distance, and being aware of their surroundings.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Establish clear rules for car use, including curfews, passenger restrictions, and consequences for breaking the rules.

Additional Resources 

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) offers a wealth of information on teen driving laws and resources for parents. Here are some helpful links:

FLHSMV Teen Drivers Web Page

FLHSMV Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education Course Information

Practice Log for Driving with Learner’s License

Study Guide for Class E Knowledge Exam/ Test Your Knowledge

Protect Your Teen’s Future: Get Help After a Car Accident 

No parent wants to imagine their child being involved in an accident. If, however, the unthinkable happens due to someone else’s negligence, having a trusted legal advocate in your corner can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. A West Palm Beach injury attorney can help navigate the complexities of the legal system and ensure your teen receives fair compensation for any injuries or damages sustained. 

DiBiaggio Law is here to provide that support in the unfortunate event of an accident.  Founding attorney Deirdre DiBiaggio understands the emotional and financial challenges faced by accident victims, and is committed to fighting for their rights. 

Schedule a free consultation with DiBiaggio Law at (561) 473-9800 or fill out our online form. Remember, you don’t pay unless we win, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Contact us now to speak with a lawyer for a car accident and let us help you get your teen’s life back on track.

Copyright © 2024. DiBiaggio Law. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

DiBiaggio Law
605 Belvedere Road, Suite 17
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
(561) 473-9800
https://www.dibiaggiolaw.com

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