Can you drive alone with a permit?

Whether you can drive alone with a driver’s permit depends on your age and state. You can drive alone with a permit and car insurance in only a few states, but you must be over the age of 16 and have at least six months of driving experience. Some states will allow you to drive alone with a permit in emergencies or in other specified circumstances.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jan 9, 2022

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The Rundown

  • You may not drive alone with a permit in most states
  • Most permitted drivers must be with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old
  • A few states allow permitted drivers to use a car without supervision in an emergency or special situations

Can you drive alone with a permit and car insurance in any state? Most states require permit holders to drive a car with a licensed adult, but all drivers must have car insurance in 49 states. Also, the minimum age of a qualified supervising driver differs among the states.

If you look at the driving laws of all 50 states, only four states allow permit holders to drive unsupervised. Which states are they, and under which circumstances can you drive alone with a permit? Furthermore, how can a driver in training get car insurance?

Read on to learn when you can drive alone with a permit and car insurance. We will also delve into restrictions states put on permitted and supervising drivers.

But if you want to see rates from top car insurance companies in your area right now, you can enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool above.

How old do you have to be to get your permit?

In most states, you must be at least 15 years old for the state to issue a permit. In Nebraska, you can apply for a learner’s permit when you are 14 years and 10 months old (or 60 days before your 15th birthday).

Here is the minimum age requirement for a driver’s permit in each state:

Can you drive alone with a permit? State Age Requirements for Earning a Permit

StateHow Old You Must Be for a Permit
Arizona15 ½
California15 ½
Indiana15 or 16
Maryland15 years, nine months
Michigan14 years, eight months
Montana14 ½
Nevada15 ½
New Hampshire*15
New Jersey16
New Mexico15 ½
New York15 ½
North Carolina15-17
North Dakota14
Ohio15 ½
Oklahoma15 ½
Rhode Island16
South Carolina15
South Dakota14
Virginia15 ½
West Virginia15
Wisconsin15 ½
Wyoming15-16, 14 if a hardship
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Even though New Hampshire is on the table, it does not issue driver’s permits, per the New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles. However, 15-year-olds may start to drive with supervision.

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Are there driving permit rules for drivers over 18?

In most states, the permit laws only apply to minors (teenagers under 18 years old). California, Delaware, Indiana, North Dakota, Ohio, and Virginia allow drivers over 18 years old to get permits.

California requires any inexperienced driver to take a DMV permit test. Permitted teen drivers need to take a driving course, as well.

Besides the District of Columbia, a total of 16 states will only grant full licenses to drivers once they reach 18:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Connecticut
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. Illinois
  6. Indiana
  7. Maryland
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Mississippi
  10. Missouri
  11. New Jersey
  12. New York
  13. Ohio
  14. Pennsylvania
  15. Texas
  16. Virginia

All other states allow drivers over 16 ½ to 17 years old to earn full licenses after completing 40-50 hours of driving (10 at night) or driving safely for at least six months.

Who can be in the car with a permitted driver?

Can you drive with a permit with an experienced driver, regardless of their age? A licensed adult over 21 years old must be in the car with a permit driver most of the time. However, many states have specific stipulations.

Can you drive alone with a permit? Minimum Supervising Driver Age

StateAccompanying Licensed Driver’s Age (in Years)
California18 (adults) or 25 (minors)
Delaware25 (Class D driver’s license for past five years)
Georgia21 (Class C License)
Indiana21 or 25
Iowa21 or 25
Louisiana18 or 21
Maine20, has held license for two years
Maryland21, has held license for three years
MinnesotaParent or guardian
Missouri21 for 16-year-old permit holder, or 25 for 15-year-old permit holder
MontanaParent or legal guardian
New Jersey21 (three years driving experience)
New Mexico23, has held license for three years
New York21
North CarolinaParent, guardian, authorized adult
North DakotaNot specified
Pennsylvania21 (18 if spouse)
Rhode Island18 or 21
South Carolina21, parent, or guardian
South Dakota18, parent, or guardian
Tennessee21 (at least one year driving experience)
Vermont25 (parent, guardian, or driving instructor)
WashingtonLicensed driver or approved instructor with at least five years’ driving experience
West Virginia21
WisconsinParent or guardian
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Note that in Minnesota, one must be at least 25 years old to supervise a permit driver when driving after midnight.

When can you drive by yourself with a permit in states that allow it?

Only four states will allow permitted drivers to take a car out unsupervised.

California allows drivers with permits to drive alone for medical emergencies, school-authorized activities, employment necessity, and necessary transport for an immediate family member.

And in those cases, it must be clear that there is no way for the person driving to find other means of transportation.

Delaware allows permitted drivers to drive alone between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Also, there are exceptions outside those hours for church activities, work, and school activities on school property.

Montana allows permitted drivers to drive alone after they complete 50 hours of driving (10 at night), but between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. They may also take a car alone if going to and from school, church, work, a farm-related activity, or during an emergency.

North Carolina allows permit drivers to drive unsupervised after six months with a permit.

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The Final Word on When You Can Drive Alone With a Permit and Car Insurance

As you can see, it is not legal for anyone to drive your car alone with a permit in most states, whether you have insurance or not. Permitted drivers need supervision as they are learning to drive.

And, of course, drivers should have insurance in any event. It is hard to get car insurance on a vehicle without a driver’s license, so the supervising driver should list the learning/permit driver on their car insurance.

Ultimately, you should obey the driving laws in your state and be sure you’re clear about what they are and how they apply to you.

Now that you know whether you can drive alone with a permit and car insurance, are you ready to see rates from top car insurance companies in your area? Just enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool below to get started.

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