Graduated driver’s license program
In 2001, New Jersey joined twenty-three other US states and implemented a multi-stage system to introduce driving privileges gradually to all drivers under the age of 21.
The route to an unrestricted driver’s license begins at 16 and allows the young person a Student Learner’s Permit for not less than six months of supervised driving. The license is issued only to those who have successfully completed a driver training course. This is at least six hours experience behind the wheel of a dual control car, i.e. it’s run by an approved driving school. The Motor Vehicle Commission regulates driving schools and, without endorsing any one school, provides a list of all currently approved. Before you employ any individual or organization for learning to drive, you should check for proper registration. Each driving school should display its license in a conspicuous place. If you do not see the license, ask. If it’s not produced, do not use that organization’s services. Its work will not be recognized and you will not get your driver’s permit.
You must have a parent or guardian’s written approval to get a license, and pass both a vision test and a written knowledge test. The latter has fifty questions and you must score not less than 80% to pass. The test is administered online at each of the MVC Driver Testing Centers, so the results are available immediately.
Once you have the permit, you can drive a vehicle displaying a warning decal on the registration plate. A qualified driver aged 21 or above with at least three years experience, must supervise you from the front passenger seat. There are also limits on night driving, the number of passengers, wearing seat belts, and the use of any handheld technology.
The second stage is a Probationary License which you can get when you are seventeen. This is subject to you passing a road test which takes between 10 and 15 minutes either at an off-road center or on the public roads. You are required to show a basic level of competence in the standard skills of stopping and starting, reversing, parallel parking, and so on. Driving schools can help you prepare. If you fail, you have to wait at least two weeks before you can try again.
When you pass this test, you have a minimum of one year during which your driving is restricted, but you can drive unsupervised. The same basic limits on night time driving, passengers and distracted driving apply.
You cannot get a basic driver’s license until you are eighteen.