Teen Driver’s Graduated License Systems in Effect Throughout U.S.
Gone are the days when a 16-year-old could take his or her driving test and, if they passed, drive over and pick up their friends to head out for a 'spin'. Too many times these inexperienced drivers, with a car full of their friends, were involved in serious auto accidents or other driving violations. It was a lethal combination, and states were forced to institute restrictions on teen-age drivers in an effort to reduce fatalities.
Graduated licensing, designed to provide beginning drivers with an opportunity to gain experience behind the wheel under conditions that minimize risk, was introduced in New Zealand in 1987. All 50 U.S. states now have graduated licensing systems, although the systems vary in strength. Evaluations of graduated licensing systems in the United States and Canadia have shown they reduce crashes substantially.
A young driver is first required to complete a supervised learners period before obtaining an intermediate license that limits driving in high-risk situations until their 18th birthday. Only then can teens get a drivers license with full privileges. Washington state puts even more restrictions on young drivers, requiring teens to pass accredited driver training classes and have a clean driving record to lift restrictions before age 18.
Washington State Requirements
To get a learners permit, you must be a minimum of 15 years of age, and be enrolled in drivers education classes; otherwise the minimum age is 15 years, 6 months. A learners permit allows you to drive with a licensed adult (21 or over) present in the vehicle at all times.
Restricted Drivers Licenses
You must be a minimum of 16 years of age and have passed a drivers education course; otherwise the minimum age is 18.
Before obtaining a license or restricted license, you must:
1. Wait a mandatory holding period of 6 months
2. Have a minimum of 50 hours of driving time, 10 of which must be at night
Restrictions during intermediate or restricted license stage:
Nighttime restrictions: Not allowed to drive during the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Passenger restrictions: For the first 6 months, no passengers younger than 20 years old allowed in your vehicle; second 6 months, no more than 3 passengers younger than 20 (Family members excepted unless otherwise noted.)
Minimum age at which restrictions may be lifted:
Nighttime restrictions: 17 years of age
Passenger restrictions: 17 years of age
Intermediate or restricted license holders with a crash or violation history are ineligible for an unrestricted licenses until age 18.
Source: Insurance Institute of Highway Safety