How to Get a Driver’s License in New Jersey

In New Jersey, you can start the process of getting a driver’s license as soon as you turn 16 years old. However, the process is a little different depending on how old you are when you begin. Here is a look at the process of obtaining a driver’s license broken down into the three age ranges.

Age 16
If you want to get your driver’s license as soon as you are eligible, as many do, there are several steps that you can take to get started once you turn 16. First you must pass both a written exam and a vision test. You can prepare for the written exam by familiarizing yourself with the Motor Vehicle Commission Driver Manual; this exam will test your knowledge of traffic laws and regulations. The vision test will simply measure the acuity of your eyesight.

Once you’ve passed the written exam and the vision test, you must provide valid primary identification, a letter signed by your parent or guardian and proof of enrollment in an approved driver training course. Your instructor may then purchase your learner’s permit.

After you have successfully completed the approved driver training course, return to an MVC agency to have your permit validated.

Now that your permit has been validated, you can begin to practice driving. However, there are several limitations that you should be aware of, including the following:

You must be accompanied by another driver who is at least 21 years of age and has been driving for three years or more. This person must be sitting in the front passenger seat.
You may not drive between the hours of 11:01 pm and 5:00 am.
Your front and back license plates must each display a decal signifying your status as a new driver.
Unless a parent or guardian is in the car, you may only have one passenger; passengers include parents, guardians, and dependents.

After at least six months of supervised driving, if you are at least 17 years old, you may schedule a road test. Only after you pass the road test will you be able to drive without supervision.

If you are successful in passing your road test, you can then begin driving without supervision; keep in mind that the same restrictions that apply to supervised drivers are also in effect throughout your first year of unsupervised driving.

You can obtain your basic driver’s license once you have practiced driving without supervision for one year, as long as you are at least 18 years old. At this point, all you have to do is pay the $24 license fee, and you are granted a full driver’s license.

Ages 17-20
If you begin driving after you’ve turned 17, the process of earning your driver’s license is a bit more simplified. Instead of beginning with a student learner’s permit, you will earn an examination permit by passing the written exam and vision test, as well as proving your identity and paying the fee. However, if you are 17 years old or older, you do not need to have your permit validated; instead, you can immediately begin practicing supervised driving.

Although the beginning stages of earning a license are more simplified if you are over the age of 16, you are still subject to the same restrictions as a supervised driver. However, there are exemptions when it comes to the hours of operation, based on religious or employment reasons.

After practicing driving for six months, you may take a road test and receive a probationary license upon successful completion. After at least one year of unsupervised practice – again, with the same limitations – you may receive a basic driver’s license, as long as you are 18 years old or older. This too comes with a $24 license fee.

Ages 21+
If you wait until you are 21 or older to begin driving, the process is further expedited, with less restrictions. Once you pass the written exam and vision test, provide sufficient identification and pay the fee, you may begin practicing supervised driving. However, if you are 21 or older, you only need to drive with supervision for three months.

Supervised driving as a 21 year old also comes with fewer restrictions; you may drive at any time of day or night, reflective decals on your license plates are not required and you may drive with anyone as a passenger as long as you are accompanied by a three-year experienced driver who is 21 or older in the front passenger seat.

After you’ve completed your supervised driving period, the path to a full license is the same as it is at any other age: Pass the road test, practice driving without supervision for at least one year, and then pay the license fee to receive your basic driver’s license.

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