Can you drive alone with a permit?

Before getting your driver's license, you must first obtain a learner's permit. Most states require you to drive a certain number of hours with a legal adult who has a valid ID before getting your full driver's license. It is illegal to drive alone with a permit. A learner's permit allows you to operate a motor vehicle as long as you have a licensed adult riding along with you.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Brad Larsen

UPDATED: Feb 19, 2022

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Things to Know

  • A learner’s permit is the first step to getting your valid driver’s license
  • No matter your age, you need to have a legal adult with a valid driver’s license ride with you if you only have a permit
  • Some exceptions may exist, but as a general rule, it is illegal to drive alone with a permit

If you are a young driver just getting your learner’s permit, you likely cannot wait until you can cruise in your car by yourself. You may ask yourself, “Can I drive by myself with a permit?” It is frustrating when you need to rely on someone else to drive your vehicle, no matter how old you are.

So, can you drive alone with a permit? Unfortunately, it is illegal to drive alone without a valid driver’s license. Read on to learn more about how a learner’s permit works and how long you might need to have a licensed driver ride along with you. Regardless of whether you have your license or your permit, having car insurance is a must. To compare quotes from top car insurance companies, enter your ZIP code and discover the best coverage for you.

Can you drive alone with a permit?

No matter your age, a learner’s permit is just for learning. Drivers who only have learners’ permits must have a licensed adult 21 years or older ride with them. If you are under 18, this licensed adult must be a parent, guardian, or another individual who has signed an affidavit of guardian responsibility. 

For drivers with a permit over 18, any individual with a license who is 21 or older can be their ride-along. Adults with permits do not require an affidavit of guardian responsibility to be signed, and any licensed driver over the age of 21 is an acceptable driving companion. 

If you are new to driving and this is your first learner’s permit, you must take driver’s ed courses and drive a minimum number of hours with your parent or legal guardian. These mandatory driving hours are typically waived for adults over 18.

The process of getting a license is time-consuming for a good reason. Driving a motor vehicle is a dangerous activity that many take too lightly.

When operating a car on highways, you pose a risk to yourself and others as well. Making sure drivers are fully trained and well versed in road laws helps maintain the safety of all drivers on the road.

Getting a driver’s license involves quite a lot of learning. Before hitting the road, new drivers must:

  • Take driver’s ed courses and a written test.
  • Once they have a permit, then they need to complete many hours of supervised driving.
  • Finally, after months of practice, they get to take an actual driving test to prove that they are ready to drive.

This process can vary by location and situation. If you are over 18, driver’s ed courses and supervised driving hours are not usually requirements for taking a driving test.

Different states have various rules regarding the age when new drivers can get their permits and the acceptable driving practices for younger drivers. In some farming states, teenagers as young as 14 can obtain their permits. Some provisions allow certain younger drivers to commute to school or drive short distances to manage farmland. These laws vary significantly, so it is best to check with your local DMV for up-to-date information about driving laws.

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Is driving alone with a permit over age 21 legal?

In certain circumstances, you may need to get a learner’s permit after you’ve already held a license. Most states require drivers to go back through the permit process if their driver’s license is more than six months expired. The minimum number of accompanied driving hours is typically waived for adults who have already held a license. Sometimes, an adult can even take a driving test the same day they obtain their learner’s permit.

There are many reasons somebody might need to obtain a learner’s permit when they are a legal adult. Some people grow up in situations where driving isn’t necessary until they move away from home. Other times, experienced adult drivers will need to get a learner’s permit if their driver’s license is more than six months expired. A lapse can happen due to a revoked license, leaving the States for a long period, or simply an oversight in timeliness to renew a license.

Most states require drivers to go back through the permit process if their driver’s license is more than six months expired.

It can be incredibly frustrating to be a legal adult and still require a licensed driver to ride along with you. The good news for legal adults with their learner’s permit is that most states do not require hours of supervised driving to take a driver’s test.

Teenagers with their learner’s permit often must drive between 30 and 60 hours with their parent, guardian, or designated rider. This number varies by state, so it is necessary to check your local laws. After they complete these required hours, they are eligible to take their driving test and get their full driver’s license.

Luckily for adults, if your local DMV has the availability, you might be able to take your driver’s test the same day you get your permit. Even if you’re not fortunate enough to take both tests on the same day, multiple hours of driving practice still won’t be required. Just try to make the appointment for your driver’s test as soon as possible, and you can get back to driving alone with your full driver’s license.

What happens if you drive alone with a permit?

If you attempt to drive solo with only a learner’s permit, you can get in a lot of trouble. Suppose the police pull you over and discover that you are driving without a license. As punishment, you could:

  • Receive a fine.
  • Receive jail time. 
  • Lose the ability to get your full driver’s license for a court-mandated period of time.

It is imperative to not drive alone with only a permit, especially for younger drivers new to the road. If you get caught driving without a license, it could be years before you are allowed to obtain a permit and license again. Many states will penalize minors who drive alone with a permit. Usually, they will be ineligible to get a license until they turn 18.

The repercussions for driving with only a permit for adults can be more severe. Driving without a license is a punishable offense that can range from a ticket, expensive fees, jail time, or even the inability to obtain a license. 

When you get a negative mark on your driving record, it can impact your car insurance rates as well. Getting caught driving without a license can increase your rates significantly because breaking any law is risky behavior. Insurance companies prefer to take as few unnecessary risks as possible when insuring their customers.

Younger drivers who aren’t as experienced will often see higher monthly rates for car insurance. Over time their rates will lower if they prove to the car insurance company that they are safe drivers. By keeping your driving record clean, you can be sure you’re getting the best deal on your rates as possible.

Can you drive by yourself with a permit?

Many new drivers are excited to get out and take their car for a spin alone. Sometimes it’s frustrating having to wait to drive until a parent, guardian, or other licensed adult can accompany you. No matter how old you are or how good a driver you are, it is illegal to drive your car alone with only a permit. 

After reading this article, you should know if you can drive alone with a permit. Driving your vehicle with a permit must only occur if a licensed adult is with you. As you venture out onto shared highways, it is vital to protect yourself and others. This is why car insurance is not only essential – it’s the law. To find the best car insurance for younger drivers, enter your ZIP code and compare quotes from top car insurance companies.

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