In 2017, young drivers made up only 4% of all licensed drivers. Yet, that same group accounted for 8% of the drivers involved in crashes with fatalities and personal injuries. As such, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) has a graduated licensing program. For drivers under the age of 18, they may be eligible for a junior license (Class DJ) after they’ve had a permit. This may allow a young driver to drive unsupervised with certain restrictions. Knowing the restrictions is important, as the junior license can be suspended or revoked.
Junior License in Upstate NY
Upstate New York is any place in the state that is not NYC or Long Island. There, junior drivers need not have supervision when driving between 5am and 9pm. Only one passenger can be under the age of 21, unless the passengers are in the driver’s immediate family. If there is a parent or guardian present in the car as a supervising driver, the restriction on under-age passengers is eased.
After 9pm and before 5am, there are more restrictions. The driver can only drive unsupervised to and from work or school. Otherwise, a parent or guardian must be present as a supervising driver. The front seat passenger can only be the supervising driver, and only one passenger can be under the age of 21, unless the passengers are in the driver’s immediate family.
Junior License in NYC
A junior driver cannot drive within the five boroughs of NYC at any time, for any reason. Why? The roads of NYC are considered more complex and more dangerous, even for an experienced driver. Note, however, if a driver is aged 17 and has completed a driver’s education course, they can apply for a Class D full privilege license.
For people planning to drive in New York City, the DMV recommends they until their 18th birthday to take their road test. This will allow the driver more time to practice with a supervising driver in a vehicle with dual brakes.
Junior License on Long Island
On Long Island, the restrictions are somewhere between those in upstate NY and in NYC. A junior driver on Long Island can drive between 5am and 9pm without a supervising driver only for:
- Work-study programs
- College or other post-secondary classes
- Evening high school
- Farm employment
- Driver’s education course
They can also drive between 9pm and 5am under many of those circumstances. At all other times, a junior driver must have a supervising driver. The front seat passenger can only be the supervising driver, and only one passenger can be under the age of 21, unless the passengers are in the driver’s immediate family.
If the junior driver is convicted of a serious traffic infraction or any two other violations, the privilege to drive will be suspended for 60 days. It will be revoked if additional violations are committed within the first six months after the privilege to drive is restored.
There are additional penalties imposed on those with probationary licenses and for those convicted of using a cellphone or texting while driving. Any driver can also be suspended or revoked for reckless driving, passing a stopped school bus, or other driving infractions.
- New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, “Younger Drivers Toolkit.” Available at: https://trafficsafety.ny.gov/younger-drivers-toolkit-0 (last accessed Nov. 3, 2020).
- NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, “Upstate New York junior driver license restrictions.” Available at: https://dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/upstate-new-york-junior-driver-license-restrictions (last accessed Nov. 3, 2020).
- NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, “Long Island junior driver license restrictions.” Available at: https://dmv.ny.gov/younger-driver/long-island-nassau-suffolk-junior-driver-license-restrictions (last accessed Nov. 3, 2020).
- NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, “New York City junior license restriction.” Available at: https://dmv.ny.gov/younger-driver/new-york-city-five-boroughs-junior-license-restriction-0 (last accessed Nov. 3, 2020).