Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for teens all over the country. However, dating back to the 1990s, that rite of passage has been broken up into three stages by what are known as Graduated Driver Licensing programs. These programs became popular as many states enacted laws restricting the licenses of new drivers and setting higher age and experience requirements for full privilege driver’s licenses. 

Georgia, like many other states, has its own graduated driver licensing program that permits drivers of different ages various privileges. In Georgia, there are three distinct stages in the licensing program:

  • Instructional Permit: For drivers who are at least 15 years of age
  • Provisional Driver’s License (Class D): Typically for drivers who are 16 and 17 years of age and meet certain other requirements
  • Class C: A fully privileged driver’s license obtained at the age of 18 or later

While instructional permits have been around for a while, it is the provisional license step and the delayed issuance of the fully privileged license that are the marks of Georgia’s graduated driver licensing program.

Instructional Permit

The laws governing teen drivers with an instructional permit are well known by many. After submitting all required documents, passing a vision and knowledge exam, and paying the instructional permit fee, 15-year olds in Georgia are issued a permit that allows them to operate a motor vehicle. 

At this stage, however, there are many restrictions, including:

  • The holder of an instructional permit can only drive with another person who is at least 21 years of age
  • Has a Class C license
  • Is able to take over driving the vehicle if necessary
  • And is sitting in the passenger seat right next to the driver

Furthermore, there are several requirements a driver with an instructional permit must fulfill before they can move on to a Class D provisional license. First, the driver needs to hold an instructional permit for at least one year and one day before they can apply for a provisional license. They also need to have accumulated at least 40 hours of supervised driving time, six of which need to have taken place at night.

Provisional Class D License

Once a driver reaches the age of sixteen and they have met all requirements, they are eligible to apply for a provisional Class D license. While this license does allow the driver to operate a motor vehicle without the supervision of an adult 21 years of age or older, there are still many other restrictions that need to be closely followed. 

These restrictions include:

  • No holder of a provisional license can drive between the hours of midnight and 5:00 am
  • For the first six months of the provisional license, only immediate family members can ride in the car with the driver
  • During the second period of six months, only one non-family member under the age of 21 can be in the vehicle with the driver
  • For the final year of the provisional license, up to three non-family members under the age of 21 can ride with the driver

After three years of successful driving—one with an instructional permit and two with a provisional license—and upon turning 18, drivers can apply for the fully privileged Class C license

Class C License

While the Class C license does not have any restrictions that come with it, drivers still need to follow all the rules of the road, including those relating to cell phone use, texting, and drinking and driving.

A failure to do so could lead to serious legal consequences and possibly even the revocation of the driver’s license.

Call a Lawyer If Your Teen is Involved in a Car Accident

Just because a teenager has a license to drive doesn’t mean that they’ll always get from point A to point B safely. Teen drivers have relatively little experience and are much more likely to be distracted behind the wheel than other motorists.

In turn, car accidents involving teenagers are incredibly common. The good news is that while many teens do share some degree of blame for these crashes, that’s not always the case. And, under Georgia’s modified comparative fault system, sharing blame won’t necessarily bar a financial recovery.

The best thing to do if your teen is involved in a car accident in Georgia is to turn to an experienced personal injury lawyer for assistance. Your lawyer can offer the guidance you need during this tough time, help you fight to recover compensation that your family may need and deserve, and defend you against allegations that your teen is at fault.