Florida’s Graduated Driver’s License for Teen Drivers
Congratulations, you’re now the brand new recipient of a Florida driver’s license! You’ve taken the driver’s ed, passed the driving tests, and now you’re ready to hit the road in style!
…kind of. You’re young and still learning, so the state of Florida wants you to take it easy on the road first. That’s why you only have a Florida operator’s license, even after you’ve passed your behind-the-wheel exam - teens who apply for a driver’s license in Florida will have to go through a graduated driver’s license program in order to earn their full driving privileges.
The Florida Graduated Drivers License Program
Florida’s Graduated Drivers License program allows a teen to go through stages to increase their knowledge and thus improve their abilities as a safe, responsible driver. It is essential to understand the basic principles of safe driving before obtaining a full or permanent drivers license. As a Florida teen complete driver’s ed and gets progressively older, so too will their privileges and driving freedoms increase.
To recap, the stages of a teen’s driving journey are as follows:
The Florida Learners Permit
At age 15, you’re eligible to receive a Florida learners permit. You must take an approved TLSAE Drug and Alcohol course (otherwise known as your Florida driver’s ed course), pass two exams, and practice real-world driver safety abilities for 1 year before applying for an Operator’s License at age 16.
During this time, you can only drive with a licensed adult over 21 years of age in the front passenger seat at all times. For the first three months, you’ll only be able to drive during the daylight; after three months, that driving curfew extends to 10 p.m.
The Florida Operators License
Once you hit the age of 16, you can apply for your Florida operator’s license – essentially, your first taste of unsupervised driving. After a year of holding a learner’s license and a minimum of 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice (10 of which must be at night), you’ll be required to pass a behind-the-wheel exam.
If you pass, you’ll be an official Florida license holder – sort of. As per the Graduated Drivers License program, the Florida operator’s license holds a strict set of restrictions to ensure you’re not putting yourself in unsafe driving conditions.
While you’re 16, you’ll be able to drive unsupervised between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Once you turn 17, that time extends from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. You can still drive outside these time limits if you are accompanied by a licensed adult over 21, or are commuting to or from work or school.
The Unrestricted E-Class License
You’ll automatically be upgraded to a full unrestricted license on your 18th birthday. However, if you show irresponsible behavior while holding an Operator’s License, you could have your license suspended or revoked. If that happens, you’ll unfortunately have to start the licensing process all over again once your suspension or revocation period is over.
That may sound like a lot of pressure, but all you have to do is follow the rules, maintain good road awareness, and recall all that you’ve learned in your Florida drivers ed courses. That’s all that stands in your way between you and the open road.