Well, fellow high schoolers, the time in your life has come… to learn how to drive. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, you’ll be a full-fledged driver in no time… well, after you get your permit,go through a driver’s education course, log in your practice driving hours, get your provisional license, wait eighteen months, and then you can get your full license. If you’re a junior or senior, you’re probably already driving, but listen up, because there may be some teen driving requirements that you don’t yet know.
First of all, you have to be at least 15 years and 9 months old to obtain a Maryland learner’s permit. This is the first step that you have to go through to become a driver. To apply for a permit, go to your local branch of the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). You will need to show valid proof of your identity and age with a document such as a birth certificate. You’ll also need to display proof of your Maryland residency and your Social Security number. If you are under 16 and applying for a permit, you must bring a Verification of Identity and/or School Attendance Form with you. You will get this from your high school and bring it to the MVA. In addition, you’ll need to pass a vision screening test and a knowledge test. If you’re under eighteen (which most high school students are), a parent or guardian must sign your application form. Also, a $50 fee is required when applying for your permit.
Once you’ve got all that done, you can finally drive!… well, sort of. While you have your permit, you can only drive when accompanied by a supervising driver who is at least 21 years old, has had their driver’s license for at least 3 years, and is sitting next to you in the passenger’s seat. Teen drivers must complete a driver’s education course with at least 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training with an instructor and 30 hours of classroom instruction. You’ll additionally need 60 hours of supervised driver training, and 10 of those hours must be at night (between dusk and dawn). All hours should be written down in your driver’s practice log, which you’ll go to the MVA to get.
To get a provisional driver’s license, you must be at least sixteen and a half, pass your driving skills test, and submit your learner’s permit and completed practice driving log. Teen provisional license holders, for the first five months they have their license, cannot have any passengers under eighteen unless they have a qualified supervising driver with them, or the passenger under 18 is a direct family member. A direct family member can be a sibling, step-sibling, parent, or any other relative, closely related or not, who lives in your house. Teen provisional license holders also cannot drive between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless they are with a supervising driver (to recap, this is an adult 21 or older who has at least 3 years of driving experience who is sitting in the passenger’s seat)or driving because of work, a school activity, a volunteer program, or participation in an athletic event. Provisional license holders also have to pay a fee of $6 per year to the MVA.
When you are at least eighteen years old, you can get a full driver’s license. You need to have had a provisional license for eighteen months and be free from legal trouble. When you have met these requirements, the Motor Vehicle Association will automatically convert your provisional license to a full license. A card showing that your license has been modified will be mailed to you. You should carry your card along with your provisional license. When your provisional license expires, you will no longer need your card and can go to your local branch of the MVA to get a full license after paying the license renewal fee.
And that’s it! For those of you who are fourteen or fifteen, being eighteen and getting a full license seems ages away. But the sooner you get your learner’s permit, the sooner you can get your full license. And that’s a lesson that can be applied to other areas of life–if you want to get something done, get it done soon, so you won’t have to wait as long to reap the rewards.
For more information on teen driver requirements, go to http://www.mva.maryland.gov/drivers/rookie-driver/general.htm and http://www.dmv.org/md-maryland/teens/.