Teen Driving Laws
In 1997, the Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) established a graduated driver’s licensing program for teens ages 15 to 18 in Georgia. This means that teens progress through a licensing process in three phases. As teens reach a certain age, complete certain requirements, and have demonstrated their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, they are allowed to progress to the next phase. Successful progression to the next phase also requires a demonstration of responsibility on the part of the teen by avoiding any violations during the term of the license held. TADRA also includes school enrollment requirements and license suspension/revocation provisions for dangerous driving behaviors (e.g. DUI, excessive speeding, etc.).
Obtaining a Driver’s License or Instructional Permit
Anyone younger than 18 years of age must present one of the following in order to obtain a driver’s license or instructional permit:
- Certificate of School Enrollment (DS-1 – obtained from school personnel);
- High School Diploma;
- General Education Development (GED);
- Special Diploma;
- Certificate of High School Completion;
- College or vocational school transcript dated within the last thirty days (official transcript with seal required);
- Certificate of Adult Literacy proving pursuit of a GED (available from the Technical College System of Georgia for those currently enrolled in a GED program);
- Declaration of Intent for Home Schoolers.
Responsible Adult Requirements
All applicants under 18 years of age must have a responsible adult present to sign the application and complete the Responsible Adult Affidavit. A responsible adult is a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older, competent to verify the application, and has personal knowledge of the applicant. He or she may be:
- A parent or legal guardian of the applicant (must provide school or military documents, tax information or a driver’s license/permit/ID card to show relationship to applicant),
- A social worker who has worked with the applicant (must provide an employee ID or a letter from the state agency),
- Certified Driver Training instructor authorized to act on behalf of the parent, legal guardian or responsible adult of the applicant with notarized documentation to verify,
- An employee of a homeless shelter where the applicant resides (must provide an employee ID or a letter from the shelter),
- A step-parent of the applicant (must provide a valid marriage license or document reflecting marriage to the biological parent of the applicant),
- Other persons who can be identified by a state agency or official, school official or certified school records, or documentation from a federal agency or entity.
Joshua’s Law promotes increased teen driving safety. The highlights of Joshua’s Law include:
- Approved driver education training required to obtain a Class D Provisional license at age 16;
- Approved driver education training required to obtain a Class M Instructional Permit (MP) at age 16;
- You must be 17 years of age to obtain a Class M Motorcycle Operator’s License.
The first stage of the graduated licensing program is a Class C Instructional Permit (CP).
For first-time issuance of a Class C Instructional Permit (CP), you must meet all requirements to obtain a Secure DL/ID if you have not already done so. See Secure ID Documentation Requirements for requirements.
Obtaining a Class C Instructional Permit (CP)
Upon reaching age 15, or anytime thereafter, you may apply for a Class C Instructional Permit (CP). The following information will help you prepare for your visit to a DDS Customer Service Center:
- You will be required to present documents verifying your identity, U.S. citizenship or lawful presence, and Georgia residency as explained on Secure ID Documentation Requirements;
- You must present proof of your Social Security Number or your ineligibility to obtain a Social Security Number. See Secure ID Documentation Requirements for a list of acceptable documents;
- If you are under age 18, you will be required to present proof of school enrollment as explained in this section;
- If you are under age 18, a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult will have to sign the application, thereby giving their consent for you to obtain a permit. The individual who signs your application may, for any reason, revoke your permit until you reach the age of 18;
- You will be required to pass a vision test. Your eyes will be tested by means of a mechanical device;
- You will be required to pass a knowledge exam related to Road Signs and Road Rules. Please refer to Testing Information for more information related to the knowledge exam;
- The test fee is $10.00 and must be paid prior to testing. If any part of the test is failed, no refund will be issued. The permit fee must be paid prior to every testing attempt.
Conditions of a Class C Instructional Permit (CP)
- Once issued a Class C Instructional Permit (CP), you may operate any Class C vehicle when accompanied by a person at least 21 years of age who is licensed to drive a Class C vehicle, who is fit and capable of exercising control over the vehicle, and who is occupying a seat beside the driver;
- Class C Instructional Permits (CP) are valid for 2 years.
For first-time issuance of a Class D License, you must meet all requirements to obtain a Secure DL/ID if you have not already done so. See Secure ID Documentation Requirements for complete requirements.
Obtaining a Class D Provisional License
Upon reaching the age of 16, and after having held a valid instructional permit for one year and one day, you may apply for a Class D Provisional License. The following information will help you prepare for your visit to a DDS Customer Service Center:
- You must schedule a road test appointment (see Testing Information).
- You must surrender your Class C Instructional Permit (CP) or affirm on your application that you are unable to surrender the permit;
- You will be required to present proof of school enrollment as explained in this section;
- You must present proof of completion of the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program (ADAP). This program is taught in most schools, and is also available online. For information about ADAP, you may visit dds.georgia.gov;
- A parent, legal guardian or responsible adult will have to sign the application, thereby giving their consent for you to obtain a license. The individual who signs your application may, for any reason, revoke your license until you reach the age of 18;
- You must pass a road test designed to evaluate your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. See Testing Information for more information related to the Road Test;
- You must satisfy the Driver Education Requirements listed below. (NOTE: Teens with parents active in the U.S. Military can use an out of state driver’s education certificate provided that it is within 9 months of their 16th birthday.)
Driver Education Requirements
- To obtain a Class D license at the age of 16 you must complete a driver education course approved by DDS. An approved driver education course consists of:
- either 30 hours of classroom instruction OR completion of an equivalent online virtual course;
- 6 hours of on-the-road experience with a certified instructor OR completion of the DDS approved Parent-Teen Driving Guide;
- You must also have completed a cumulative total of at least 40 hours of other driving experience, including at least 6 hours at night. Completion of the DDS approved Parent-Teen Driving Guide will serve as an affidavit certifying that this requirement has been met;
- if the teen obtains the on-the-road component of driver’s education from a certified instructor, a separate document affirming that this requirement has been met must be completed at the time of the road test.
- If you have not completed the driver education requirements, you cannot obtain a Class D license until you reach the age of 17. For information on approved driver education courses and to download the Parent-Teen Driving Guide, see the DDS website, dds.georgia.gov.
Conditions of a Class D Provisional License
- A Class D license Holder may not drive between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. — NO EXCEPTIONS;
- During the first six months following issuance, only immediate family members may ride in the vehicle. ‘Immediate family member’ includes the driver’s parents and step-parents, grandparents, siblings and step-siblings, children, and any other person who resides at the driver’s residence;
- During the second six months following issuance, only one passenger under 21 years of age who is not a member of the driver’s immediate family may ride in the vehicle;
- After the first and second six-month periods, only three passengers under 21 years of age who are not members of the driver’s immediate family may ride in the vehicle;
- A Class D license Holder must, for the 12 months preceding application for their Class C license, be free from any convictions for major traffic violations that result in the mandatory suspension of a driver’s license.
The following information applies to teens moving to Georgia from another state who wish to obtain a driver’s license or permit in Georgia.
Under Age 18 without a valid license issued by another state
If you do not already hold a valid driver’s license or instructional permit issued by another state, you will be subject to the licensing requirements of Georgia residents. Please see the preceding sections for more information.
Under Age 18 with valid out of state license
If you hold a valid driver’s license or instructional permit issued by another state, you will normally be eligible to obtain a comparable license issued by Georgia. However, the state of issuance may have requirements for teenage drivers that differ from Georgia. For more information, please call the Customer Contact Center at (678) 413-8400.
Detailed information concerning permit and licensing requirements for Motorcycle Operator’s Permits and Licenses can be found on the DDS website at dds.georgia.gov. Teens under age 17 must meet the Driver Education Requirements listed on this page to obtain a Class M Instructional Permit (MP). A Class M Motorcycle Operator’s License is available at age 17.
The parent, legal guardian or responsible adult who signed a minor’s application for an instructional permit or driver’s license may request revocation of the license or permit at any time prior to the minor’s eighteenth birthday. The person requesting revocation of a minor’s instructional permit or driver’s license must submit his or her request for the revocation on the form designated by the Department. The form requires the person’s notarized signature. The person requesting revocation of a minor’s instructional permit or driver’s license must pay a non-refundable fee of $10.00.
The State of Georgia applies strict penalties to teens who fail to obey the laws regarding operation of a motor vehicle. The instructional permit or driver’s license of any person under 21 years of age convicted of any of the following offenses shall be SUSPENDED for a period of six months for a first conviction, or for a period of twelve months for a second or subsequent conviction.
- Hit and run or leaving the scene of a crash;
- Racing on highways or streets;
- Using a motor vehicle in fleeing or attempting to elude an officer;
- Reckless driving;
- Aggressive driving;
- Any other offense for which four or more points are assessed:
- Unlawful passing of a school bus;
- Improper passing on a hill or curve;
- Exceeding the speed limit by 24 miles per hour or more.
- The accumulation of four or more points in any 12-month period while under 18 years of age.
Convictions for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol (DUI)
First DUI Suspension:
- If your Blood Alcohol Concentration was .02 or greater, but less than .08; or your implied consent test results were suppressed; or no test was given, your license will be suspended for a minimum period of 6 months, unless you have a previous conviction for an offense in the above list, in which case your license will be suspended for a minimum period of 12 months;
- If your Blood Alcohol Concentration was .08 or greater or you refused implied consent testing, your license will be suspended for a minimum period of 12 months;
- No limited driving permit is available.
Second DUI Suspension:
Your license will be suspended for a minimum period of 18 months, with ignition interlock permit eligibility after 120 days.
Texting and Cell Phone Use While Driving
Georgia has a new Hands Free Law (HB 673) that mandates that drivers are not allowed to hold or support a phone for any reason. A phone can only be used with headphones, a wireless device, phone holder or mounted device. Penalties are fines and points added to your driving record increasing for each conviction.