Maryland Rookie Driver - MD Graduated Drivers License Requirements
One the of the main distinguishing factors of the Maryland graduated drivers license system is the fact that it applies to drivers of all ages, not just teen drivers like in many other states. This approach is very reasonable as new drivers are highly likely to be involved in a traffic accident, no matter what age they are. The graduated drivers license system in Maryland, which is also known as the Rookie Driver laws, ensures that new drivers gain the essential driving experience before they start driving alone on public roads. The Maryland graduated drivers license system is probably one of the most developed and thorough licensing systems in the whole country and other states should consider raising their licensing standards to a similar level.
What is the whole point of having a graduated drivers license system in place and why do we even need it? The answer to this question is very simple - the graduated license laws are an important part of traffic safety. Around the nation, introduction of graduated license laws saw a 58% decrease in traffic accidents that involved young inexperienced drivers and resulted in a serious injury or death. This number alone should be enough justification for introducing the graduated license law and outweigh any inconvenience such program may impose into new drivers. Potentially, the graduated license laws can save thousands of lives each year.
Many people wonder how does the Maryland graduated drivers license law achieves its goals and why is it so effective. The mechanics behind the program are quite simple and are based on many studies conducted throughout the nation. The studies allowed the licensing agencies, such as the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, to pinpoint the most common factors that lead to traffic accidents and subsequently eliminate these factors. Since lack of driving experience is the major risk factor for new drivers, this issue was addressed first. Instead of granting new drivers with full driving privileges and issuing them with an unrestricted Maryland drivers license, the state divides the licensing procedure into a number of stages, each stage designed to teach a new drivers certain skills. By the time the applicant attains a full drivers license, he or she already has at least a year of driving experience, so the transition is very smooth.
Restrictions and limitations also play an important role in developing safe driving habits and keeping newly licensed drivers out of trouble. Each one of the licensing stages has its own set of restrictions that must be observed if the applicant wants to graduate to the next level. Failure to observe these restrictions may have a number of consequence, your stay on the current level may be prolonged or your driving privileges may be suspended completely.
Keep in mind: the Maryland graduated license Rookie driver laws apply to drivers of all ages, not just teenagers. IF you were licensed by a different state, but have less than 18 months of driving experience, you will have to go through some of the stages of the program and observe certain drivers license restrictions. Check the official Maryland drivers manual if in doubt whether the graduated license laws apply to you.
Maryland Graduated License Stages
At the moment, the state Rookie driver program has three key steps every driver has to go through.
- Learners permit
- Provisional drivers license
- Full drivers license
If you are applying for your first drivers license, you will have to go through all of these stages. If you already hold a drivers license that was issued by a different state or country or a US Armed Forces drivers license, but you have less than 18 months of driving experience, you will have to go through the following stages of the program:
- Provisional drivers license
- Full drivers license
The holding period for your provisional drivers license will depend on the amount of driving experience you have at the time when you apply for a Maryland drivers license.
Maryland Learners Permit
The Maryland MVA issues two types of learners permit - type 1 permit and type 2 permit. The type 1 learners permit is issued to the first time license applicants while type 2 drivers permit are granted to those who previously held a drivers license or are upgrading to a different license class. Here, we talk only about the regular type 1 Maryland learners permit, if you require information about the type 2 permit, please refer to the drivers handbook or contact one of the MVA offices.
The minimum age when you can enter the Maryland graduated license system and apply for a learners permit is 15 years and 9 months. The MVA requires you to take a number of tests, such as a vision test and a Maryland permit test, before they can issue you with a drivers permit. Most applicants fail the learners permit test the first time they take it because they are not prepared for the level of questions and the wording on the knowledge exam. You can take a Maryland practice permit test to see if you know the rules well enough to pass.
Once you pass the test and receive your drivers permit, you can start preparing for your Maryland drivers test. Your learners permit is valid for 12 months and you are expected to fulfill the first level graduated drivers license requirements within this period.
No matter how old you are, the state requires you to take an approved Maryland drivers education class. MVA-certified classes include at least 30 hours of classroom instruction time and 6 hours of behind the wheel lessons. At the moment, the MVA does not accept any home study, online or correspondence drivers education classes. Since Maryland drivers ed does not come cheap, make sure that the school you are going through is certified by the state so you don't waste neither your time, nor money.
In addition to completing a drivers education class, permit holders are also required to complete at least 60 hours of supervised driving with a more experienced driver, 10 of these hours must be done at nighttime. These hours must be recorded in a Practice and Skills log that you can download from the MVA's website. The log form must be signed by a parent or legal guardian for applicants who are under the age of 18 and any supervising driver for those who are over 18 years of age.
The learners permit must be held for at least six months before the drivers test can be scheduled. Please remember that during this stage, you must observe all Maryland permit restrictions, you are not allowed to drive alone and must have a supervising driver seated next to you at all times. The supervising driver must be at least 21 years of age, have at least 3 years of driving experience and be currently licensed. Everyone in the vehicle must wear seat belts and permit holders are not allowed to operate any communication devices while driving.
If you are convicted of a traffic violation, the permit holding period will be restarted and you will have to wait another six months before you can take a driving skills test and get your provisional drivers license.
Maryland Provisional Drivers License
If you are upgrading a learners permit to a provisional license, you must fulfill all learners permit requirements first and pass a drivers test. Once you do that, you are issued with a provisional drivers license that allows unsupervised driver under certain circumstances, but still holds a number of restrictions.
You must hold your provisional drivers license for at least 18 months, conviction free, if you have never held a drivers license previously. If you hold a drivers license issued by a different state, county or a US Armed Forces drivers license and have less than 18 months of driving experience, the holding period will be as following:
- previous driving experience less than 6 months - must hold a provisional drivers license for at least 18 months
- previous driving experience 6 to 12 months - must hold a provisional drivers license for at least 12 months
- previous driving experience 12 to 18 months - must hold a provisional drivers license for at least 6 months
If you are convicted of a traffic violation during this period, the holding period is restarted.
If you are under the age of 18, you must observe the following provisional drivers license restrictions:
- no driving alone between midnight and 5 a.m., unless there is a supervising drivers who is at least 21 years of age is present in the vehicle. The MVA can make an exception to this rule if you are traveling to or from work, school activity, an organized volunteer program or an athletic training session.
- For the first 5 months, no passengers under the age of 18 other than the immediate family members, unless there is a supervising driver present
- No cell phones. You cannot use any communication devices while driving.
These restrictions are automatically lifted once you satisfy the graduated drivers license requirements and hold your Maryland provisional license for the required period of time. At this point, a supplemental card is mailed to you and it must be carried along with your provisional license at all times while driving. You will obtain a regular license at your next license renewal.