Who can be in the car with a permit driver?

If you're wondering who can be in the car with a permit driver, you should know that if the person holding a permit is under 18, the passenger must be the driver's parent, guardian, or legally approved individual. Operating a motor vehicle alone with only a permit is illegal.

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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: Mar 13, 2022

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Things to Know

  • A learner’s permit allows an individual to operate a car as long as they have an approved passenger with them
  • Drivers under 18 are only permitted to drive with a permit if their parent or guardian accompanies them
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a valid license is illegal

No matter your age, if you only hold a learner’s permit, then you cannot operate a motor vehicle alone. To legally drive with only a permit, you must have a passenger over 21 that holds a valid driver’s license. The penalty for driving without a license can be severe. Drivers who get busted for driving without a license can find themselves hit with expensive fines and sometimes even jail time.

Illegally driving without a license will also lead to a mark on your driving record, which can significantly increase the rates you pay for car insurance. If you’re a new driver holding your permit, then driving without a license will set you on the wrong foot for car insurance moving forward. To get the best insurance for young drivers, you should always obey road laws and be sure to compare quotes from leading car insurance companies.

Who needs to be in the car with a permit driver?

A learner’s permit is one of the steps required to get your driver’s license. After passing a written driver’s test, new drivers receive a learner’s permit. Holding a permit allows drivers to operate a motor vehicle legally as long as a licensed adult accompanies them.

An individual must get a permit before they can get a license. Oftentimes, young drivers who are new to the road have permits. Still, there are circumstances where experienced drivers may need to obtain a permit. If your driver’s license is more than six months expired, many states require you to get a permit before you can renew your license.

There are many reasons a license may lapse like this. Sometimes it can be due to being out of the country long enough for a valid driver’s license to expire. Other times, individuals might not drive very often and may forget to renew their driver’s license before it’s too late.

If you are wondering, “Can I drive alone with a permit?”, the answer is a resounding, “No.” Even if you have held a valid driver’s license for years, once you go back to having only a permit, you cannot drive alone. Someone with a permit at any age must have a licensed adult riding with them.

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What does it take to get a driver’s license?

Getting a driver’s license involves many steps and can be complicated, but this is for a good reason. Operating a motor vehicle poses a risk not only to yourself but also to those around you. Through training and hands-on tests, you can be sure a driver is well aware of road rules and safety. This assurance is critical in maintaining the safety of a community.

To get a driver’s permit, you must take a written test. Driver’s education courses often precede this written test for younger drivers. Drivers over the age of 18 typically do not have to take driver’s ed classes to obtain a permit.

After one has a learner’s permit, they can drive their vehicle as long as a licensed adult accompanies them. Younger and first-time drivers are typically required to drive a certain number of hours with a permit and a licensed adult passenger before taking a driving test.

Through training and hands-on tests, you can be sure a driver is well aware of road rules and safety.

When the driver holding a permit is under 18, their passenger must be a parent, guardian, or another individual over 21 who has signed an Affidavit of Guardianship. An Affidavit of Guardianship is a form that both the driver and passenger must complete that puts the passenger into some realm of responsibility for the driver’s actions.

If the driver holding a permit is a legal adult, then anyone over the age of 21 with a valid driver’s license can be their approved passenger. If you’re an adult driver holding your permit, the good news is most states waive the minimum supervised driving hours. You will not be required to drive a certain number of hours with a licensed passenger before taking your driving test. Instead, once you hold your learner’s permit, you can typically take a hands-on driving test as soon as you can schedule it.

What happens if you drive alone with only a permit?

If you are caught driving alone without a license and only a permit, then the repercussions can be steep. While the punishment for driving without a license varies by state, here are a few things that you can expect.

You will pay expensive fines and fees. One of the most common repercussions for driving alone with only a permit is getting slapped with fines for breaking the law. These fines can be rather expensive, especially if you have multiple marks on your driving record.

You could lose your permit and your ability to hold a license. When you get caught driving alone with only a permit, you will not only have your permit taken away, but you might not be able to get your license for some time. The court determines the restriction on obtaining a license, which can be a long delay. Similar to an increase in fines, if this is not your first driving violation, then the time you have to wait until you get your license can be even longer.

You could see jail time. Going to jail for driving without a license is less common than the other punishments, but it’s still possible. Nobody wants to spend time in jail, but it’s crucial to realize why such punishment exists. Operating a motor vehicle is dangerous. People often take for granted how dangerous a car can be both to the driver and others on the road. If you get in trouble while driving often, then the likelihood that you’ll serve time in jail for driving without a license increases.

Your car insurance rates will increase. Regardless of what the court-mandated punishment for driving without a license is, one thing that is for sure is you will get a negative mark on your driving record. Any negative mark on your driving record leads to higher car insurance rates. This rate spike is because breaking the law is risky. Even if you obey all other traffic laws while driving without a license, you are still inherently breaking the law.

If car insurance companies see that someone has broken road laws before, it flags the applicant as a risky driver. Put simply, the cost to insure a high-risk driver is higher than a safe driver. Somebody who engages in risky behavior like driving without a license is a liability. Driving without a license signals to the insurance company that a driver may not obey other laws, putting them at risk of an accident and a higher likelihood of filing an insurance claim.

This list is not exhaustive of the punishments that could await you if you decide to drive without a license.

Can I drive alone with a permit?

Even though it can be frustrating to have somebody ride along with you, it is important to obey all road laws. Driving with a license is an essential law that you should always follow. No matter your age or how long you have been driving, if you only hold a permit, then you cannot drive unless you have a licensed adult with you. By breaking this law, you risk steep punishment as well as extremely high rates for your car insurance. Young drivers experience higher car insurance rates by default, so it is vital to obey the law if you’re new to the road.

So, who can be in a car with a permit driver? If you have a permit, you should only operate a vehicle if your passenger is an adult with a valid license. Furthermore, comparing quotes from top companies is the best way to get cheap car insurance rates for young or high-risk drivers.

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