Understanding Teen Driving Laws in California

Teenage drivers experience freedom for the first time when they get their licenses. Unfortunately, teenage drivers are also inexperienced drivers who are not as safe on the roadways as more experienced drivers. Here, we want to discuss the laws that pertain to teenage drivers in the state of California. We will talk about the age at which teenagers can begin driving, cell phone laws focused on young drivers, and whether or not teenagers have to pay more for insurance than other drivers. 

When Can Teens Start Driving?

Teenagers can get a permit in the state of California when they have reached the age of 15 and 1/2 years old. A teen can apply for a permit to drive after they have completed and approved a driver’s education course where they learn about traffic laws, driver responsibilities, and overall roadway safety. These programs have to be either 30 hours long or 2 and 1/2 semesters of classroom instruction.

Alternatively, teenagers are allowed to complete this training program through an online training course. When a team has their permit, they have to have 50 hours of driver education behind the wheel within six months. After this is completed, a teenager can take their driving test at 16 years old. 

Teenagers have a restricted driver’s license for the first year of driving. This is considered a provisional license, where teens are prohibited from driving between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM. If a teenage driver has a passenger who is under the age of 20, there are additional restrictions. The teenager must be transporting either a certified driving instructor, a parent or guardian, or a licensed driver who is at least 25 years old. After a teenager turns 18, these restrictions are removed.

There are various exceptions to teenage driving restrictions, including medical necessity, driving to and from school, driving to and from a job, and other family member necessity.

What About Cell Phones in the Car?

In the state of California, no driver is allowed to use a cell phone or other electronic device while holding it in their hand. They can only use these devices in a hands-free manner. However, any driver under the age of 18 is prohibited from using a cell phone for any reason, regardless of whether or not it is hands-free.

Do Teens Pay More for Insurance?

Insurance premiums will vary by driver and company. The reality is that teens, as a group, pay more for insurance because they are considered high-risk drivers. Teenagers simply have less experience on the roadway, and insurance carriers know this. They also know that teenagers tend to engage in riskier activities behind the wheel, including speeding, horsing around with friends, and experimenting with alcohol.

If you are a teenager paying for car insurance or a parent shopping for insurance coverage for your child, we encourage you to check the prices at multiple insurance carriers before you decide to get your insurance. The same types of coverage minimums apply:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum

If you or your child are injured in an accident caused by the actions of another driver on the roadway, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer in Irvine. An attorney can walk you through the steps necessary to file your car accident claim and handle all communication with other parties on your behalf.